I don’t really have anything specific to say about this new Lakes record. Writing about Lakes is something I’ve done in the past and it’s never been especially satisfying. Sit and stare at the wall and just listen.
I have to write about Lakes again though, because Blood of the Grove is the best Lakes record there is. All of Sean Bailey’s idiosyncrasies – his voice, his belting guitar – sound better when they’re supplemented by other humans, such as they are here. On this record he sounds a bit further away, so you don’t get sprayed in his spit. Instead, you can see some vague outlining of the world he’s always inhabited, all lush green and greys, stone and earth, blood and lace. The whole record sounds like some austere, distant phenomenon. There’s a frightening military pace to a lot of the songs, and with a proper drummer Lakes sounds even closer in spirit to mid-period Death in June and even, at times, Sol Invictus.
‘Night Lark’ is one of my favourite songs at the moment. It’s made me cry. It feels weird to admit this w/r/t a Lakes song, but there it is. What I like about this song and the record in general is that it displays an eager receptiveness to darkness. Lakes’ music feels like the eternal struggle to acquaint one’s self with the unknown. Lakes is solace found in oblique codes and systems beyond our ken. Lakes’ music is forlorn, but it has no relationship with modernity, nor with our condition, and nor with anything truly horrible and ugly about life right now.
For me, Lakes is about dreaming. Lakes is about the comfort of a purely existential melancholy, rather than a specifically political or social one. Lakes is the binary opposite to the pervasive social realism in Australian independent rock music at present. It refuses to provide a narrative. All you get are tantalising visual allusions and a dark place to temporarily call home. It’s a fleeting sadness you cannot substantiate.
I guess in the end, what I like most about Lakes is that it helps me imagine. It doesn’t appeal directly to any of my attitudes or prejudices. When I listen to Lakes, I don’t ever think about the way Lakes fans dress, the gigs they go to, the books they read, the jobs they have. Lakes is a world I visit sometimes. I’m happy to let it be just that. I’m happy to be moved without understanding why.
Lakes’ Blood of the Grove is available now through No Patience Records.