Lorna- Heart of Wire

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Monday, April 22, 2013

Heart of Wire is my first experience with UK’s Lorna, a husband and wife duo that has been creating dreary, spaced out pop and indie rock for over a decade and a half. Based on what I was able to preview of the band’s previous material, they have experimented with mellower alt-country and folk ideas as well as sparser arrangements that have some slowcore influences. Heart of Wire seems like a representation of everything the band has pulled from in the past while also heading into new territory, and it’s the type of album where there always seems to be something new to discover from one song to the next.

One of the problems that a lot of groups of this type tend to run into is that they quickly fall into a pattern and don’t make that much of an attempt to really deviate from it. Although Lorna takes a familiar subdued approach their material has a level of depth that can sometimes be missing in this genre. Melodies drift by at first, but on tracks like opener “Sounds We Hear” the softer melodies suddenly open up into a fuller sound that has plenty of layers to discover. But Lorna doesn’t stop there, as they hop between different musical styles throughout Heart of Wire. While there are plenty of slower moments where the emphasis is placed more on the vocals than instrumentals, the group likes to open things up every now and then and take on some faster moving pop and indie rock that have some quick hooks. That’s what I like the most about this release, as it is able to seamlessly blend the type of sparser slow moving arrangements where you have to really pay attention to take everything in with faster numbers that have more immediate ideas.

Mark Rolfe and Sharon Cohen-Rolfe swap off vocal melodies throughout the course of the album, and they both have soft pitches that are well suited to the drearier instrumental arrangements. While their performances are enjoyable separately, the moments that stood out the most on Heart of Wire were the ones where the two go for a duet. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the vocals don’t stand out at all when they’re singled out, as Sharon’s work on “Old Shanklin Sunset” was beautiful, but in general I found that the vocals had the greatest amount of emotion and complexity when the two singers were together rather than apart.

While not all of the tracks that went for a solo vocal performance stood out as much as the duets, Lorna’s latest still has plenty to offer listeners. I really like that this group has been able to provide fuller, more immediate arrangements mixed in with the sprawling, minimalistic ideas as so often in this type of music there seems to only be one or the other. Heart of Wire provided plenty of breathtaking melodic moments that blurred the lines between several musical genres, and it looks like I may have to dive further into Lorna’s back catalog to see what else I have been missing.

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