The last decade has clearly been a trying one for Lake of Tears leading (dark) light Daniel Brennare; in the time since his labour of love’s last studio album, Illwill was released (2011), he’s clearly experienced not one iota of joy, mirth or indeed a single reason to be cheerful. The consequence of this ten years of misery is displayed in recorded form for all to enjoy on this comeback album, Ominous…
I’m joking, of course – I’ve never met the man, much less am au fait with his personal circumstances, but that still leaves me feeling that Brennare is a damn fine creator of moods and characters if he really hasn’t had a rotten time of it recently. He’ll have you convinced by midway through the album that we’re all royally fucked as he pours on the pain in ominous, again and again over the course of the tracks that make up the opening half of the record.
Actually that’s not strictly true – opening track At The Destination is a pretty spritely slab of dark, danceable poppy rock, but after that things get grim pretty quickly. In Wait and In Worries carries a world weary sense of the bucolic sadness found in people who have spent too long in isolated farmhouses, whilst Lost in a Moment translates that sadness into churning, malefic anger. Like I said, Brennare is a past master at creating a mood…
Ominous One gives a bit of light relief, setting itself up as a galloping metal romp over which Brennare’s broken croon adds a saturnine mischief, whilst it’s companion piece, Ominous Too, substitutes raucous guitars (at the song’s outset, at least) for a sparse piano and violin framework wherein our protagonist reverts to his brooding, threatening side. If you’re a fan of anything Nick Cave has done this century, you’ll find plenty to enjoy on this track, and as the central pivot of the album, this brace of songs works perfectly.
The second half of the album ain’t exactly sunshine n’lollipops either, as the distracted, scittering, nervy One Without Dreams tugs at your attention, first stealthily and then with a great big sonic boom; The End of This World starts in a similar, sinister, nerves on edge fashion before exploding with a fabulous new-wave flourish that quickly subsides into another straight-jacket and padded walls anthem to the mentally dispossessed; Brennare builds layer upon layer of wordless noise, keys and guitars sliding across a strident drum tattoo and then… the song dissipates, leaving not a trace that it was ever there. It’s disconcerting yet strangely uplifting at the same time.
Penultimate track Cosmic Sailor seems to offer a little hope after all the misery and confusion, with Brennare offering a more optimistic vocal over another lushly constructed musical backdrop. Sadly the album fades out on the back of it’s weakest track, the throwaway acoustic piece In gloom, But this is still a strong enough return to recommend the album not only to long term fans of the band but also lovers of the more despondent end of the musical spectrum.
Ominous releases on February 19th.