Lenka - Lenka
Review Courtesy of Giant Step
"I'm really in my element," says Lenka as the wind chimes sound and she surveys the forest outside the Woodstock, NY recording studio where she laid down the final tracks of her self-titled solo debut. The natural setting clearly reminds her of home - not her adopted home of Los Angeles, but the Australian bush, where she grew up. In Sydney, Lenka was a teen actress who trained with Cate Blanchett, thereafter landing leading roles on stage, television and in indie films ("The Dish" and "Lost Things"). Providing "strangely haunting" (Rolling Stone) vocals and keyboard licks for the acclaimed indie electronic/ambient outfit Decoder Ring, now she has flung herself into two new worlds simultaneously: she's moved to California and become a solo artist. But no matter where she ventures, those early memories follow.
Although Lenka's debut is rife with broken romances ("Wrote Me Out," co-written with AFI's Hunter Burgan), self-loathing ("Anything I'm Not"), difficult relationships ("Dangerous & Sweet" with Howie Day on guest vocals) and long distance longing ("Skipalong"), it is nevertheless uplifting. Channeling our long-repressed terrors ("Trouble Is A Friend"), her music evokes primal emotions, unblemished by pretense or cynicism - and unashamed of cracking a smile occasionally. In characteristic Lenka fashion, lead single "The Show" takes a dour premise - that life is a show, and sometimes a pretty bad one at that - and delivers it with unexpected aplomb, erupting into a bold, brassy closing refrain of "I want my money back!" Lenka's fresh sensibility extends to every element of her music, as the whimsical, paper art, stop-motion animated videos she creates with fellow Aussie James Gulliver Hancock, a visual artist, demonstrate. "We're sort of an art duo. I'm really into craft styles, things looking a bit badly done and childlike on purpose - rather in the vein of Michel Gondry," she says. Others may struggle to get in touch with their inner child; Lenka never lost hers.
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