Album Review: LANKS – Twentyseven

Friday, April 27, 2018

Twentyseven the debut album by LANKS, is a special album in the scheme of LANKS’ life and his story so far.

Twentyseven brings together what has made LANKS the person he is, drawing on pursuits, happiness and inspirations from all areas of his journey and directly translates that into the music he’s created for the album. Twentyseven also draws on fears, anxieties and understandings that LANKS has had to realise in his own music and career. Comprised of fourteen carefully curated tracks, the album brings forth all of these feelings and explores them through his signature mellowed vocal sounds and stellar production. The album is one any artist would be proud to call their own, and as you listen to the album, it’s clear to see the love and passion LANKS has placed in his music.

The album includes many of LANKS’ already popular singles and tracks from earlier EPs with 'Holla, Comfortable', 'My Own Mystery', 'Bitter Leaf' and the album's title track, all making an impact on the album. Twentyseven also comes with a collection of new material previously unheard on his previous releases, which help set a new tone and direction for his unfolding career. LANKS has an enviable ear for music and the way he’s worked the production of the tracks as well the overall flow of the album speaks volumes to his talent.

The album opens with 'Man', bringing together a sombre combination of soft piano, light guitar, rumbling drums and LANKS’ flowing, somewhat nostalgic vocals. It helps set a deeply emotive tone for the album. 'Man' is a song of subtle beauty, with the musical layering held back throughout the song, only rising the atmosphere and emotional tempo towards the conclusion of the track. It seems like a question, looking at what it means for him to be a man, with the lyrics often pointing towards internal questioning and anguish.

The album, flows well, thematically as well as musically, often moving between the more beat-focused and ambient tracks, the shift between 'Man' and 'Something In the Water' emphasises this arrangement of the album, 'Something In The Water' turns up the momentum, using heavier bass hits to underlie the tempered acoustic and electric guitar layering, swelling synths and his sublime vocals. This track plays with more of a house music and acoustic combination, helping to break some of the emotional tension from 'Man', but still helping to retain the energy before the title track, 'Twentyseven'.

While 'Twentyseven' has been released for a couple of months, it has an important role on the album. Doing more than help space the tracks, 'Twentyseven' is an affirmation of LANKS’ long found anxiety surrounding success within the music industry. Looking towards his own musical inspirations, many of which were successful by this magic age. 'Twentyseven' looks at the acceptance LANKS has found in his own music, finding his own path in the flow of musicianship, accepting that people develop in their own time. The track itself is full of subtle layering and musical ‘creature comforts’. Through the lyrics such as “you taught me how again, how to love myself”, the track creates an emotional punch to the heart. Much like 'Icarus' towards the end of the album, 'Twentyseven' stands up in its goal of displaying his life, the growing reassurance of his own self-worth in music and talent as a producer.

Breaking up the newer tracks with 'Comfortable' and 'My Own Mystery', LANKS uses his classic sounds from his earlier singles to help reset before jumping into 'Circles' and 'Yours'. Both new recordings have a focus on love and convey LANKS seemingly muddled feelings on the matter. 'Circles' has a low-key funk twist and is a very relaxed groove track, while 'Yours' has a bit more drive behind it, but placed together the songs act as a themed pair within the scope of the album.

'Phoenix Friends' follows 'Yours' and keeps up the mellowed track's theme. Using distorted synths, soft, light piano, some relaxed acoustic guitar lines and layered vocal work, he creates a perfectly balanced piece. It all works together, using the music to help raise the emotions of the piece.

The energy is kept upbeat between 'Horoscopes' and 'Holla'. 'Horoscopes' rhythmic vocals, quick pacing and bouncing, zapping electronic synths help develop a new mood in the album. 'Horoscopes' drives deep into the album and has an almost dance-esque feel, converting the final break of the track into a beat filled adventure before the final verse and chorus. 'Holla' is then used to keep the energy alive. As one of LANKS’ well-known tracks, it keeps the mood light and the party strong.

'Reticent' has much faster pacing, LANKS vocals rhythmically flow, quickly and with a certain sense of brevity. Piano, quick bass and drum lines plus the addition of sequencing synths that fade in and out help fill out the track, with the underlying soundscape of the track almost as capturing as the vocal work that he puts in.

'My Artistic Idol', the last track before the fitting finish for the album in 'Icarus'. 'My Artistic Idol' is a dedicated recording to the “unwavering” artistic idol in LANKS’ life. The recording is a look into the young mind of LANKS and what made him into the creative minded individual he is now. The song looks towards his own artistic idol and the inspiration he sought from them to further his own passion.  He creates a mood of nostalgia as his story and melancholic vocals take centre-stage through the recording.

The final track has a special place in both the album and in LANKS’ life. 'Icarus', the very song he used to propose to his wife, Tacey, is a fitting end for an album that is driven by purpose. With gripping lyrics and heartfelt group vocals sporadically sung throughout the track to the line, “Is it all for me?” The track is full of his distinct sound, something pure, raw and conveys the emotions that LANKS has put behind his recording of the album and his relationship. 'Icarus' feels like something more than just a song. It's an affirmation of love and tenderness, as well as everything that it means to be a human. 'Icarus' is a perfect fusion of an artists emotions and creative work, creating the only track that could possibly sit at the close of Twentyseven.

The beauty of this album is how LANKS is able to use music to connect with himself and then connect with the listener. Through Twentyseven, LANKS is able to take you on a journey through his life, to some of his deepest fears as well as his happiest peaks. The album has all of it and gives an insight into one of the hardest working musicians in the country.

Written by Daniel Hanssen (@Dangigman)