Album Review – Johnny by Lawn (2020) (Muscle Beach Records / Community Records)
After a 2.5 year hiatus, Lawn have finally added a sophomore to their critically acclaimed Blood on the Tracks debut and whilst there may be subtle changes in nuance, the general aesthetic remains perfectly consistent.
Initially the Pavement riffs still act as a foundation providing ‘undramatic subdued’ to the entire essence. In the hands of Lawn such riffs are dank, darker and slightly more skittered, offering a post-punk suggestion that is never quite realised amid the dominant vibrancy / tempo
Instead the foundation is augmented by a sense of controlled, spasmodic semi-mania as the sound transforms into the frantic indie-rock bombast of Playing Dumb and Talk of the Town, takes on the chunky skew riffs and semi-spoken word deliberations of Lewsberg stylistics in Summertime, or dives headlong into battered art rock in Jane Ryan. It’s all very Lawn, perfectly left field eclectic.
On the debut this act were at the best when they were pushing the parameters of obtuse as seen in the aforementioned tracks. However, in Johnny it is the tracks with a greater sense of melody coursing through the weird, that really shine.
As such, the title track, Honest to God / Paper, Sunshine and Smile flirt with the darkened, dulcet melodies that are reminiscent of Young Guv and Nap Eyes and provide a surprising sense of ‘weird pretty’ that may not have been totally congruent with their previous sound. For the trendies among you, this might be seen as a nod towards a more commercial sound, but somehow a sense of the ‘pervading strange’ completely avoids any accusation of commercialism.
Lawn remain effortlessly and brilliantly obtuse on this sophomore, but may well have opened a whole new fanbase with their new sense of the ‘banger single’.