Lightspeed Champion – Falling Off the Lavender Bridge
How Long You’ve Been Missing Out: 6 Years (Released January 2008)
The Album in One Sentence: Singer/Songwriter/Indie music produced by Mike Mogis and featuring many Saddle Creek all-stars, resulting in what I would call the English Bright Eyes
Defining Lyric: “My drawings are starting to suck, my best friends are all listening to Crunk, I feel like the world’s gone crazy” – Everyone I Know is Listening to Crunk
So this is sort of a rare album experience for me in that it’s not often that I go absolutely crazy for an album (I’ve been listening to this album since its release in 2008!) but never really get hooked by anything else the artist has done. Mind you, I’ve only recently looked into Devonté Hynes’ original band Test Icicles
and found out that he eventually abandoned the Lightspeed Champion moniker for Blood Orange
, both of which are DRASTICALLY different from this album.
As mentioned above, Falling Off the Lavender Bridge was produced by Mike Mogis, of Bright Eyes production fame, with most of the Saddle Creek Records crew. Mogis makes some beautifully well balanced albums (I’m sure I’ll put a Bright Eyes album up eventually) and this is no exception. It’s truly an adventurous album for a solo debut. With big group vocals, well thought out orchestral parts, some wonderful flute playing, and dynamic songwriting, it’s not really what I was expecting when I friend handed me a CD-R with an unfamiliar band name scribbled on it all those years ago. And it’s aged so well!
FOtLB opens with a tasty little intro track featuring a fantastic pedal steel guitar solo over some elegant finger-picking. It then dives straight in to “Galaxy of the Lost”, a deceptively understated track. There’s a lot going on in this track really. A droning Hammond organ behind the chorus, some great piano in the second verse, and a reprise of the “Number One” intro to close it out (Headphones people!)
Further on we get the centerpiece of the album, “Midnight Surprise”. Here, musical expertise and lyrical nonsense abound! From the prominent Hammond in the interludes to the opening pedal steel solo, the first half of this song packs a powerful punch. It’s also worth noting that quite a few members of Bright Eyes played on this album, which should surprise no one who is familiar with the band. Although long, “Midnight Surprise” is in constant flux, starting strong and mellowing out a bit toward the middle, only to explode into a fantastic, fast paced, emotional ending. This style of sort of crescendoing songwriting comes up again string-heavy “Devil Tricks for a Bitch” and the ambient “Salty Water”.
Falling Off the Lavender Bridge is a tremendously varied album instrumentally, which is partly why it never gets boring, even when staying stylistically consistent. It’s almost like Dev wants to try to do the same thing as many different ways as he can, which I promise is a good thing! The instrumentation varies from being based in acoustic or electric guitars, piano, Wurlitzer, electric bass, stand-up bass, and really anything you can think of. It’s really a cool way to write an album, and it’s supporting by some production gurus! It’s a musical treat, and catchy as hell!
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