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A review of...
6 Lenins by The Proper Ornaments
6 Lenins is the third album from The Proper Ornaments, a super-group / side project / fully formed entity led by James Hoare (of Ultimate Painting, and previously Veronica Falls) and Max Claps (of Toy). The two songwriters were joined in the studio by Danny Nellis on bass and Bobby Syme on drums and the album was recorded swiftly last August. The fact that most of these songs were written in the summer is telling, as the record has a clear mellow, sunshine vibe running through it, in stark contrast to the band's second album which was more inspired by illness, break-ups and drug abuse. That's not to say that the music here is happy-clappy, but there's a placid, contentedness to these recordings which brings to mind some of Big Star's more affable material.
The album opens with "Apologies" which has a dreamy guitar hook and lush overlaid vocals and sets the stage for the change in mood that's present on this LP. The lyrics aren't a barrel of laughs, and to be honest, the music won't get you jumping with joy but it somehow manages to be relaxing and oddly uplifting. It's the same sort of effect that bands like Buffalo Springfield achieved, managing to be serious and laid back at the same time. There's a certain take on sun drenched American rock 'n' roll going on here. "Where Are You Now" is a perfectly packaged pop tune with exactly the right proportions of light and dark and some beautifully timed key changes. Perhaps the peak of 6 Lenins is "Can't Even Choose Your Name", The Proper Ornaments' own take on a classic rock/pop ballad, complete with an understated, meandering guitar line and lovely piano flourishes, along with a sad, spine tingling middle 8 which just leaves you wanting more.
On "Please Release Me" the trademark jangly guitar and general loafing vibes are complimented by some warm, droning organ which propels the band towards the more psychedelic end of the classic American rock spectrum. Elsewhere there are hints of Mwng era Super Furry Animals, Elliot Smith, Drinks and Galaxie 500 (none of whom are particularly known for their "get up and go"). Yes, 6 Lenins is more of a night in record than a night out record, so why not just stay in and give it a spin. There's probably nothing good going on out there anyway.