When the music of Lemolo comes up, the word ‘mood’ typically isn’t far behind — and for good reason.
The two charming ladies from Poulsbo have been dubbed Seattle’s Next Big Thing because of their distinct dream pop sound, one that tends to match the darkest colors on a mood ring. On The Kaleidoscope, the duo’s first full-length, they exploit each mood they come across throughout the 11 drifting, fluttering tracks — all songs that are sure to grab the attention of more than just Seattle music fans.
Right out of the gate, the stark keyboard lines, breathy vocals and chilling reverb and delays of “Knives” set an uneasy tone that permeates the rest of the album. Even on the more uptempo numbers like the jaunty, punchy keyboard-driven “Move Me,” Lemolo finds a way to break down to sparse, minor-key passages.
While Lemolo have created a buzz for themselves through their emotional live performances, the studio is even more in their wheelhouse as it allows frontwoman Meagan Grandall to layer her own harmonies and background vocals. Her descending wordless backgrounds on the chorus of “Beautiful Night” are the highlight of the slow piano tune, while the harmonies on atmospheric lead single “On Again, Off Again” add even more beauty than what’s present in the live setting.
The biggest asset of The Kaleidoscope is Lemolo’s use of dynamics — rarely are more than three or four musical elements running at the same time, adding more weight to each part, whether it be the intricate drums of “On Again, Off Again,” the spacey guitar lines of “Who Loves,” or each secondary vocal track. The biggest beneficiary of the wide-open dynamics is “Open Air,” the album’s most outright poppy song, as Kendra Cox’s varied drumming — which jumps from skittering snare hits to pulsing bass drum kicks to, finally, soft but insistent cymbal taps — takes center stage.
Another benefit of Lemolo’s dynamic style is that in the rare occasion they decide to stomp into overdrive, there’s no way you won’t notice. The album reaches its apex just like that on the vengeful “Who Loves,” which builds from simple single-note guitar pulses and steady toms to a raging chorus of driving guitars and prettily-shouted vocals. That’s followed by the seven-minute, 15-second epic “We Felt the Fall,” a piano ballad that rises and falls while Grandall showcases a myriad of vocal melodies.
Unfortunately for The Kaleidoscope, its moodiness may not be fit for its summer release. But in the Puget Sound area, it won’t be long before the clouds grey back up and Lemolo becomes the new sound of Seattle.