Head Copy Editor
A band defined by its lack of definition, Lake Street Dive has had a long yet under the radar career. Starting off as an avant-Country band before moving into R&B, Funk, Jazz, and Rock influences, their music has embodied much of the 2000s, all culminating by their seventh studio album Obviously, released March 12. A child of the coronavirus pandemic, this album was reworked and postponed almost half a year before its release this month, but boy was the wait worth it. Its upbeat and energetic vibe gives you music to dance to, while its lyrics on heartbreak, sexism, and the state of the world still provide a critique on reality.
Starting off strong with arguably its best song, “Hypotheticals” sings of a future of unknown possibilities: a future with true love, peace, goals, and the fear that comes with the unknown. This intro serves as a great representation of early 2020, as things look good, and our narrator feels ecstatic with the possibility of a new relationship, future, and happiness, pushing aside the fear we all feel when facing the unknown. Led by a funky bass and synth, it’s something you can’t help but dance to, even during the most mundane moments.
The album is brought back to Earth with “Hush Money,” though, with lyrics of international corporations fanning the fumes of climate changes and environmental destruction while using their power to distract the public. After this discovery, the narrator demands ‘hush money’ or repentance for all the damage all these people have done — and that they’ll have to do this willingly or unwillingly when the public wakes up. Following this is another turn from the upbeat vision of the future in “Same Old News,” featuring Akie Bermiss. While still hanging onto the ecstasy of true love, the couple here in turn sing of other people involving themselves in their business, and inevitably pushing breaks into the relationship. After a beautiful solo of a heavily distorted horn, they ponder on having to move to their own private island to be able to love each other in peace, without the obnoxious questioning of other people.
Next up is the most powerful song of the album: “Being a Woman.” Don’t be fooled by its soft, dreamy xylophone percussion and drifting guitars; the lyrics tell a different story. A story all about the implicit sexism of society and the insane amount of unpaid labor women have to work in western nation, the song eventually explodes into ravaging rock guitars before mellowing down, alluding to the fact that many times they can only protest softly and ‘lady-like’ and any anger will get them labeled as rioters and monsters. “Making Do” takes another look at the abysmal and apocalyptic state of the world. With lyrics of the human suffering in Kenya and Colombia, the morality of bringing a new child into this ugly world, and the lack of relief and suicidal thoughts capitalism induces, this song packs one of the strongest emotional punches, split up by a soul-wrenching guitar solo.
While the album has a spunky, energetic yet pessimistic attitude up until this point, it takes a complete 180 at “Nobody’s Stopping You Now,” the halfway point of the project. With a piano-driven, somber tune, this song sounds unlike anything else, speaking of the discriminatory treatment and restrictions girls receive growing up, but gives one of the most hopeful and emotional pungent points of the album; we all grow up, and the sooner we understand there’s no one from stopping us how to live, identify, and work, the happier and more fulfilled we’ll be, really driving home the message of female empowerment.
Following is the happiest song of the album, complete with a trumpet section, a heavenly chorus, and a groovy guitar riff: “Know That I Know.” This song is all about finding the love of your life and understanding the connection at once. From comparisons to being Bob Ross’ ‘happy little clouds’ to being Ferris Bueller’s literal ‘day off’ there’s nothing but joy between these two. It’s clear they’re in love and meant for each other; the only thing left to do is convince her love to confidently say yes. Things quickly turn sour in “Lackluster Lover” though, as she discovers her lover’s not all he’s meant to be, comparing their attempts to fan the flame of passion to corporations fanning the flame of global warming. The spark is gone and nothing is left in common, and with rough, distorted guitars in the chorus to represent her displeasure, it’s clear their short-lived fling won’t last as intended. This leads into “Anymore,” their inevitable breakup. There isn’t much to say here; while there is no hate, there’s no love either, and they can’t seem to find any emotional connection, sharing tears before splitting up.
Nearing the end of the album is “Feels Like the Last Time.” Giving us listeners a glimpse into the far future where the two meet again, our narrator begins to feel a spark again. With a slight sense of old-time doo-op music and a harmonica, she has an internal debate if enough time has passed to forgive them, or if this is just an intrusive thought, even if the tone of the song says otherwise. Ending off is “Sarah.” A soft and somber song, it reveals now only their second breakup, but that their relationship wasn’t only plagued by internal affairs, but by being an open lesbian couple in todays’ world as well, a sort of plot twist with Akie Bermiss’ earlier feature implying her lover was a man. Giving new insight into the complications and emotions those two have gone through over the years, as well as seeing how the world has changed, the narrator signs off on a bittersweet tune, hopefully wishing her the best.
I personally found this album beautiful. I had never heard of Lake Street Dive or Obviously until a few days before I wrote this review, but I’m beyond impressed. The Brooklyn-based group seamlessly blends together different genres and subjects to create a very unique sound — one great whether you’re getting over a breakup or dancing while folding laundry. I’d have to give Obviously an 8.3/10, with my only gripe being some of the songs feeling too short. Besides that, though, I’d highly recommend listening to “Hypotheticals,” “Same Old News,” ‘Being a Woman,” and “Know That I Know.” It’s really an album you could listen to anywhere, and I’d say you should give it at least one try.
Featured Photo Courtesy of Rolling Stone