Lucy Bland - Down to Sea Level (Cover Artwork)

Lucy Bland

Down to Sea Level (2008)


With a band name like Lucy Bland, you are setting yourself up for a lot of bad puns. In order to combat this, you would need to be a compelling group full of the sort of songwriting that could score adjectives like "intriguing" and "detailed." The strange thing is that despite solid songwriting full of nuance and warmth, Lucy Bland live up to their namesake by the end of Down to Sea Level.

The electronic soundscapes that make up the base of Lucy Bland's tracks could be compared to anything from the Postal Service to Björk. Add some synth lines, humming strings and an easygoing guitar and you've got a cadence that is soothing and comfortable.

The band sound like they are eased back in fat leather armchairs in some low-lit study full of dark and well-polished woodwork. It's the type of aesthetic that invites listeners to sit back and inhale deeply. While this is a charming, almost therapeutic sound, it eventually starts to feel more like a tranquilizer than a relaxation aide thanks to the fact that Lucy Bland only seem capable of running on one very slow speed.

It isn't until six tracks and nearly 25 minutes of music that the pace picks up a bit with the song "Valor," and when I say a bit, I mean it. The underlying beat finally hits a BPM that passes the pulse of a senior citizen, the bass line is peppy and even the guitar seems to come up in the mix, yet singer Cat Biell never overcomes her hushed approach, leaving the song feeling a bit lifeless despite its musical energy boost. Combine that with the fact that the following track, "Plumb," is merely an instrumental that sounds like it could score a nature film and, well, Lucy Bland's one chance at interjecting some vigor into their album has done anything but.

Taken individually, the tracks that comprise Down to Sea Level are each beautiful, and intricate pieces of music well worth a listen; put them all together, however, and it's a tedious experiment in patience, one that seems to conjure sleep more than an interested ear.