Lost In Translation pleases with its minor shifts and pensive mood, and The River proves they can structure an organic folk-roots song well with racing guitar plucks chased by a scatty beat.
Gold Coast quintet The Lamplights are not exactly newcomers; their brand of folk-roots has been quietly loved and lauded by local audiences at intimate shows since 2009. Having grown from a trio by adding a player here and there, their sound has broadened to encompass an ensemble-like approach to song-crafting, and yet it's clearly apparent singer Ryan Gittoes is the flag waver, the sinew tying the five-piece together. His stamp is heard and felt all throughout sophomore effort What Love Is, which is musically pleasing enough and bats a few winners out of the ball park, but as a whole ends up feeling a little glossed over and becomes a 'by the book' sort of release.
Opener Heading East travels (so to speak) down a well-worn path lyrically with talk of moving on and the spirit of storytelling is present, hidden in the neatly-clipped acoustic guitar line and a dry, rambling kind of kit. It's raw and energetic but for some reason Gittoes's vocals seem almost too pristine to front this kind of band. Further in on the twangy title-track it's a similar story, talk of leaving but backed up with a more country vibe, but towards the end the frontman adopts that '90s penchant for singing using vowels only. Where the heck did that come from? Wonder still; it reappears during The Ballad Of Love And Hate.
As jarring as that strange quirk is, that's not to say the whole album is to be dismissed. Lost In Translation pleases with its minor shifts and pensive mood, and The River proves they can structure an organic folk-roots song well with racing guitar plucks chased by a scatty beat.