Lee Memorial – ‘The Lives of Lee Memorial’

June 30, 2009 § Leave a comment

Published: The Big Issue #328, May 2009.

The Lives of Lee Memorial
Lee Memorial

There’s a desperation to Karl Smith’s arcing high-register on this, his debut as bandleader for Lee Memorial. The opening pair of tracks that shape The Lives of Lee Memorial – the tearing ‘All The Things’ and the elegant, downhearted dirge of ‘Mayflower’ – have the Melbourne songwriter howling like his life depends on it.

It’s an engrossing, almost torrid introduction; the once slender arrangements that Smith and best mate Pete Cohen wove as Sodastream are expanded into a rattling, ragged band setting. But the further the record plays out, the more it settles into its own skin. A burbling horn section tiptoes across the blue-skied pop melodies of ‘Drifting’, while drummer Laura MacFarlane (of Ninety Nine) adds a stunning harmony to the vivid, wistful lyrical detail of ‘Shoulders and Floors’.

The wiry guitar discord and vocal harmonies of ‘Listen to Yourself’ sits back to back with the solemn prettiness of ‘Boxing’. Jagged edges are softened and sanded back.

‘Berlin’ would have to be the record’s centrepiece. Its stabbing minor key guitars, flourishing chorus harmony and tactile lyrical snapshots prove both abrasive and subdued, evocative and residual. It’s a wonderful summation of Smith and Lee Memorial’s counterpoising strengths.

Dan Rule


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

What’s this?

You are currently reading Lee Memorial – ‘The Lives of Lee Memorial’ at dan rule.


%d bloggers like this: