The new album from The Proper Ornaments, Six Lenins, out today via Tapete Records, is the sort of release that's not necessarily going to surprise any long-time fans of this band, or those who came here because James Hoare was in both Veronica Falls and Ultimate Painting. That said, this long-player is full of lovely tunes, and it's also a more spry release than the last record from this band.
The line-up here -- James Hoare (Ultimate Painting and Veronica Falls), Max Claps (Toy), Danny Nellis (Charles Howl), and Bobby Syme (Wesley Gonzalez) -- manages to imbue what seems like rather simple material with real depth, such that a number like "Where Are You Now" lingers in the brain like something from Galaxie 500, even as the perkier "Song for John Lennon" suggests something a tiny bit peppier, like a classic Teenage Fanclub single.
James Hoare isn't interested in changing things up too much, and if you're a fan of the other Proper Ornaments albums, or were a fan of the late Ultimate Painting, you'll be able to dive into any part of Six Lenins with ease. And while "Old Street Station" sounds entirely familiar given that information, the nearly-bouncy "In The Garden" messes with the formula, however slightly, marrying a faintly insistent rhythm with a vocal performance that feels as light as air. It is, in a subtle way, a new direction for this band, even if it's just a brief experiment here. Elsewhere, "Apologies" and "Crepuscular Child" offer up nods to an expected influence (The Velvet Underground), but there's also a moment or two on those and other numbers here that suggests The Clientele. If Hoare and crew are less concerned with making pretty chamber pop than they are with pursuing a unique, single-minded sort of style in indie-pop terms, that's okay considering how successful Hoare has been with this formula so far, over the span of three separate bands.
Six Lenins is out today via Tapete Records.
More details on The Proper Ornaments via the band's official Facebook page.
[Photo: Anna Sampson]