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I Killed Your Dog Siobhan Kane , October 13th, 2023 09:37

Another fascinating album from L'Rain in which indie rock, dream pop and neo-soul conspire to produce one compelling sound, finds Siobhan Kane

Described by L’Rain’s Taja Cheek as something of an “anti-break-up” record, I Killed Your Dog sounds like it is more for things, than against. On this, the singer, multi-instrumentalist and art curator has form, from 2017’s debut L’Rain and 2021’s Fatigue.

Explorations of different kinds of love are at the root of this record, and explorations of different musical influences, as L’Rain at times imagines conversations with her younger self (particularly on ‘Knead Bee’ which re-envisions Fatigue’s ‘Need Be’), as she plays the role of witty, wiser older sister. Duality abounds and contradictions reign, with L’Rain managing to create a world where all of this makes sense and sensuality. Part of the beauty of the record is that it resembles a sonic, thematic and emotional collage, a celebration of compelling sounds and sensibilities.

‘Our Funeral’ is a strange and sad tale, with a swirling sonic palette and dusky vocal, and ‘Pet Rock’ is all squalling Pavement-inflected 90s indie-rock, a “morose ode to the white dad rock I never listened to”, achieved with a knowing wink. There are many moments of playfulness and lightness, as on ‘I Hate My Best Friends’, or the soulful ‘Sometimes’, with its jaunty handclaps that act as an entreaty.

And there are moments of affecting sentimentality too, but put through a wonky blender, with the title track a luscious uncanny journey, and ‘Monsoon of Regret’ sounds like James Blake channelling Julee Cruise-era Twin Peaks, with its echoey, distilled and considered sensibility. ‘5 to 8 Hours a Day (WWwaG)’ interrogates the culture of productivity, bringing in Judee Sill-like baroque-folk, and experimental rock, conjuring a sense of dappled light and hazy loveliness, brilliantly aided by trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire.

There is a beautiful ambient wash on ‘r(EMOTE)’, a blissed-out piece, with soaring vocals and dramatic synths, and ‘Uncertainty Principle’ sounds like Fleet Foxes duelling with Erykah Badu. There is a real tenderness present on ‘Clumsy’, and in fact, much of this record is underpinned by a sense of tenderness, with ‘New Year’s UnResolution’ a skittering pop-driven song with elegant piano, it brings us out the other side, to a clearing, a new beginning – having resurrected the ghost of a past relationship in order to exorcise it, it lands as a wistful, yet hopeful piece that reminds us we can start anew, and in fact, it is our responsibility to. L’Rain has produced another fascinating record, a reappraisal of past work, while managing not to repeat herself. It is a very interesting album, as much about resilience as it is grief.