Fret ye not on the practicalities, you don’t need a TARDIS to visit those days anymore. Just give ‘This Is An Adventure’ a spin. You’ll be there in the twinkle of a glockenspiel.
‘Pioneers’ sets this playful tone from the first ping, following up with light-fingered keyboard flourishes and springy guitar riffs that skip and hop like you’re navigating stones across a trickling stream. After three years away from the studio, The Lighthouse And The Whaler are back, still keeping themselves from planting their feet in the ground. The brothers Michael and Matthew LoPresti, Mark ‘Poro’ Porostosky and Steve Diaz are the bare-chested band on the cover, faces painted like Red Injuns, circling the fire like it’s a Saturday afternoon Rain Dance. Just so you know what to expect.
It’s been a long old time since we heard from this band, but they still have all the energy of little boys zooming through open fields with their arms spread pretending to be aeroplanes. It’s no mystery that they called their new record ‘This Is An Adventure’; every song here has that inimitable spirit of youthful optimism.
You can practically hear the wind in the sails as we ease into ‘The Adriatic’, the calm of the cool water emulated in simple, longing strains on the violin as cymbals brush and shimmer like waves against the shore. Title track ‘This Is An Adventure’ springs into action soon after, the band clearly having the time of their lives: “I feel the grass beneath our feet and open skies”.
‘Little Vessels’ is the first to feel dark and momentous, teasing you with a cold opening before the delicate instrumental interplay strikes you, and you realise the lengths this band have gone to in making this record something truly special. ‘Iron Doors’ goes one further, capturing bravery in quiet moments. Those frightening and thrilling few seconds of a couple’s first kiss are articulated, given form and melody.
‘Venice’ is probably the purest expression of their new sound; full of the unforgettable innocence and honesty of first love. “Death is cold/Death is sure/Why don’t we all fall in love?” pleads the chorus. It calls up John Lennon’s iconic ‘Imagine’ in asking us to throw away useless dogma and pretense. We’re being asked to live for love, and it sounds like music to these ears.
Maybe every other band has a track called ‘Untitled’, but TLATW make up for their unimaginative lack of title by closing this record with passion and pathos, bristling with arching keys and fleet-fingered guitar licks. It’s one last hurrah; it’s shouting yourself hoarse for the encore and not giving a good goddamn because it’s the last night of the tour.
The Lighthouse and the Whaler have made a beautiful progression from an already striking sound. You can’t help but be reminded that Noah and the Whale found themselves in a similar situation with 2011’s ‘Last Night on Earth‘, coming from the earthier sounds of their previous record, as Lighthouse and the Whaler have after their debut. Where that album’s progression felt forced and derivative though, ‘This Is An Adventure’ comes off completely natural.
It feels fresher, bolder, surer in itself. On the evidence of this record, these aren’t the kind of musicians to just tiptoe into new territory; they’re much happier splashing in all the puddles, making a mess and to hell with the laundry bill.