Guest post by Bekki Milner (wearelp.uk)
photo by Darren Craig
Warning: This article contains SPOILERS. IF you haven’t listened to Heart to Mouth yet (WHY?!) then do that first. Then on the second listen, join me with a glass of your favourite beverage and let’s get down to business…
LP’s new studio album Heart to Mouth is nothing like what you’ve heard her do before. I mean sure, it’s definitely LP. But LP and her musical team have put a spin on what we’re used to and have brought a whole fresh new 12 tracks of emotional disturbance our way.
Some are concerned when an artists style moves away from what we’re used to – we’ve grown comfortable with that music, and at first listen, new styles are exotic and awkward compared to what we’ve had on repeat for the last 12 or so months. But this is 100% LP, and 100% real and 100% written from Heart to Mouth.
Are you sitting comfortably? Then let’s press play and begin with Dreamcatcher. Bringing us in gently with slide guitars and a beat that walks us towards the beginning. The beginning of a story we’re going to experience deep down in our heart. Gentle opening verses give way to a rippling pre chorus that sweeps us off our feet and straight into that powerful vocal that feels like home. Don’t be afraid, you’re not alone here.
The tribal drumbeat and the lone wolf war cry evokes images of wind in the dust. It’s haunting, and a bit dark. We can’t see what we’re walking towards through the storm, but we’re ready to take it head on. Let’s continue down the road.
When I’m Over You is the next step, with eerie distortion breaking into smooth summer pop beats and glorious vocals from both LP and the backing vocalists. All of these songs by the way should be played at a decent volume, or on high quality headphones, because the detail in the mixing and layering is breath taking. We’ve moved from that dusty desert to paler sands and long hot summers. It’s a hopeful refrain and it shimmers in the sunlight that crept through the cracks after a breakup. It’s that feeling when you look out of the window at a blue cloudless sky and know the sun will be hot and the day will be good. Only, you know, in a song. A quiet inward breath ends this song, like the breath you take before taking that step into the unknown. Which we are about to do.
One Night In The Sun brings us back to that haunting darkness in Dreamcatcher, in to a melancholy moment of poetic reflection. Ghostly cries lurk in the dark verses and rousing choruses, rising to an open hearted finish featuring a beautiful cello performance. It feels like someone walking away from the dark place we just walked in to.
Girls Go Wild is already a fan favourite, and we’ve heard it several times live this year – apparently this was written in the desert came together in all of 3 hours (source: Mike Del Rio). Sunshine brighter than blind love actually glows through the lyrics, and the blue sky from When I’m Over You is back and there’s a party going on. It’s like a new romance, and you’re all kinds of excited. But lyrically, there’s still a question here…so what you wanna do?
Okay, refill your glasses. I hope you’re ready for what’s about to happen next.
The next four tracks will put you through an emotional tumble dryer. It’s warm and nice but you’re hearts gonna get tossed around in here. From the party under blue skies, we’re thrown in to the curtains drawn darkness of Recovery. A creak of a piano, and this stripped back ballad hits us right between the eyes from the word go.
I think LP has this ability to write about the in between emotions. Everyone writes about heartbreak, but what about the befores, what about the afters? Lost on You was the pre break up song, Recovery is the post-post-breakup song. That bit that comes after the anger, after you’re heartbroken, when you’re starting to feel like you again and the last thing you need is the person who broke your heart coming back to you because if they do you’ll be back in bed with a bottle of whiskey for a week again. Especially when they just want to see if you’re ok and say sorry.
This song captures that, that very specific time after a breakup. You know what, I’ve never even experienced it to this extent, but I can feel it right to my bones just hearing Recovery. Live, this song makes the crowd go silent, and the whole room can feel it. The recording is just as special by the way, so carefully crafted with each beat of the drum and familiar background cries. There’s a hint of hopefulness, they know they need to say no in order to heal. Again, the realness, the organic-ness of this song is brought home by the piano, the sound of the keys and the creaking. You’re in the room right there to the end of the song.
The Power comes right after that, and now you’re ripped open and sore, you’re going have your heart pummelled from the inside. You’ve been through Recovery, but you’re thinking about what you gave away. I feel like there’s a quiet anger in this song, not quite regret, but a feeling of “Goddamnit I GAVE YOU MY SOUL”. And for me it highlights how we give people the power to destroy us – ok that might be my interpretation speaking here.
The bassline for this is SICK. AS. FUCK. by the way. And the verses are deliciously stripped back, drums, bass, vocals, open and raw. It jumps into a powerful bridge, again turn this up because you don’t want to miss the complexity in this mix. It’s dark, it’s brooding, and now it’s inside all of us. And we give it to those we love so easily.
Dreamer pulls us back up – or down – to earth. This is possibly one of my favourite songs. Not just on the album, I mean ever. We’ve moved –we’re no longer in a breakup, we’re no longer regretting…we’re back in a relationship and begging for the one we love to come back to us. You bleed with the desperation to catch them again, because what’s worse than a break up but when you’re together and you can’t get through to that other person. But not like in Lost on You, when you’re realising you already lost them.
With Dreamer, they’re there, but they aren’t HERE and you love them and it hurts. LP’s soaring vocal on this hefty ballad carries that emotion (wait, when doesn’t she TBH, if anyone gives their all in making us feel every song it’s LP), and your heart aches right there with it. See, I told you this was an emotional tumble dryer.
House on Fire… at first I thought this was a love song. And in a way it is, because it’s about the passion, even when that passion is anger. I love the lyrics, and the pase doble beat makes me wanna move my feet (hah oh shit I’m rhyming now). It’s full of drama, like a flamenco dancer, and when the chorus kicks in I dare you not to want to move! But this is an argument, a bull fight, and LP is that matador commanding the dance. That classic whistle is back, and it’s amazing by the way. Again this needs to be turned up loud, because the landscape is terrific.
Hey Nice to Know Ya, I’m sure we were introduced to a little bit of this in Russia some time ago. It’s another reflection on a break up, with great poetic lyrics, and a sparkly upbeat feel. We’re out the other side again, and this is an anthem with a cheeky chorus. It still has that sad undertone because it’s about a break up, but you know you’ve moved on by this point. I am loving the “Whoop whoop!” towards the end, and the beautiful vocal layering that wants you to stamp your feet and clap.
We’re swiflty taken by another anthem, Die for Your Love (my husband’s favourite, and it’s unlike him to comment on anything musically, so that says something). There’s a cheeky feeling in the opening lyrics, like a new relationship when you’ve just realised you love somebody, and well, you want to leave the lights on. The drums tease us into a chorus and before you know it you’re in love and you’re shouting it from the roof tops. Beautiful harp (at least I think it’s a harp!) sprinkles through the second verse, and this feels like the happy sequel to You Want it All – that beautiful tribal feeling that takes your breath away when you hear it live. And I would really love to hear this live, as it would take the roof off the venue. Bring back the Taiko drummers of Tokyo Sunrise for this, it’s THAT EPIC.
Shaken is that moment in the bar when you see your ex and they’re with someone else. There’s a tense moment of alarm for the first few seconds before it kicks in, like a radar that’s picked up the fact your ex is here… It might sound like a quirky 60s inspired song, but it has that awkwardness, that sadness, that horrible feeling in your gut when you have to be normal but you pass them in the street… and you’re, well, Shaken!
The lyrics are great here, “And it feels like I’m watching someone else live my life” hits you in the heart with an “Oh shit, I know that feeling”. That said, despite it being about possibly The Most Awkward Moment In Your Life, it’s a fun, upbeat song that gets your toes tapping and makes me think of milkshakes in diners. For me this song is very visual, you can see the scene playing out when you listen to it, that’s how good the storytelling is.
Special is the closing track of the album. It’s wrote about a dear friend of LP’s, Renato Lopez, who was murdered in 2016, and you can tell it means a great deal to her. The fact that this isn’t a sad song says a lot about the person she is honouring… this is upbeat and strong and passionate, and such a beautiful tribute. It reminds me a little of songs from Suburban Sprawl and Alcohol, one of LP’s very early albums. There’s a rawness here, it’s from the heart (like everything, I know, but this…this really is Special). I love that LP has shared such a personal song with us, and it’s perfect to close Heart to Mouth with. We’ve probably all lost someone special. All your love is so special.
Listen right up to the end and if you’ve got it loud enough, you’ll hear the record player stop and the dream spiral out. You’re back in the room, you made it, and like LP, you’re still in one piece after it all. Go get yourself a drink, it’s been one hell of a ride.