Lake Trout: Another One Lost
Anybody who caught the hometown quintet at last week's free Ottobar show knows there are two Lake Trouts: the "serious" group that is starting to believe its own hype about melding yesterday's minimalism to tomorrow's beats, and the one that remembers its instruments are electric and that it can seriously play them. To its credit, the quintet has finally found the right recorded balance of the two on Another One Lost, a baker's dozen songbook of different shades of the same purple mood, but with enough skittish rhythmic action going on to keep the ebb and flow from becoming tedious. Released last year but getting a national push this summer, Lost is an oozing landscape of slithering percussion and writhing bass lines holding together guitar washes and electronic textures that sometimes clutter the mix more than complement it, in the mistaken belief that patiently repeated motifs build tension all by themselves.
What keeps this "experimentation" from becoming narcoleptic is Lake Trout's ability to sift through the muddy mix and find a core song built on its basics: two guitars that fight like close-aged siblings, multi-instrumentalist Matt Pierce's teasing keyboard or flute accents, and a bass-and-drum pulse that, though prone to agitating arrhythmia, never arrests. And with that foundation, Lost's whole-cloth songs--"Mine," "Say Something," "I Was Wrong"--come alive. But when Lake Trout becomes enamored of effects over songwriting, the album retreats into term-paper preciousness. Lake Trout is still discovering what kinds of new ideas it can make work. Unfortunately, letting the experimentation fly while the tape rolls hasn't turned into anything sublime, and the fact that it releases those musings keeps Lake Trout just shy of blossoming into the actual innovation at which its members' musicianship hints. But its successes keep it a rung above being just another tired-ass school of Phish.