Review: Lankum ‘False Lankum’

Lankum are a Dublin four-piece whose members comprise of Ian Lynch, Daragh Lynch, Cormac Mac Diarmada and Radie Peat who formed in 2000 initially under the Lynched moniker. False Lankum marks the band’s fourth overall full-length release and the follow-up to 2019’s The Livelong Day (which saw them winning the RTE Choice Music Prize). With this in mind, expectations are high and I for one can’t wait to get stuck in.

Lankum 'False Lankum' Artwork
Lankum ‘False Lankum’ Artwork

The promotional notes are quite revealing, we learn that Go Dig My Grave was ‘discovered by Lankum’s Radie Peat who learned the particular version on the album from the singing of Jean Ritchie, who recorded it in 1963′ and which according to the band thematically ‘centres around the emotion of grief – all-consuming, unbearable and absolute’. Furthermore, we find out that the latter part of the track’s funereal feel is inspired by ‘the Irish tradition of keening (from the Irish caoineadh) – a traditional form of lament for the deceased’. So far so sombre and yet the track is strangely beguiling in its morbidity and would give the likes of Joy Division a run for their money.

Clear Away In The Morning reminds one of Pink Floyd pre Dark Side of The Moon when they were presenting us with low key mellow psychedelia and genuine otherworldliness before the fame, infighting and pomposity took over. A beautiful number to lose yourself in.

Fugue I is the first part of the Fugue trilogy and demonstrates Lankum’s interest in experimentation with its seemingly random dissonant collection of sounds. This continues in Fugue II and Fugue III and makes in total for intriguing listening, especially as it’s what you’d expect to hear from Deafkids, or any number of Rocket Recordings artists as opposed to an ostensibly Irish folk outfit.

A perfect blend of the traditional past and an exploratory present…

Master Crowley’s presents an altogether jauntier upbeat aspect to the band’s sound while Newcastle is a beautiful tender ballad laden with atmosphere that will melt even the blackest of hearts. Netta Perseus, the first of two original tracks composed by Daragh Lynch, starts as a delicately played acoustic number before changing tack to incorporate some truly majestic shoegaze soundscapes. The New York Trader is a traditional folk song whose lyrical content is pretty dark in the first place but the band’s use of ambient drones amplifies this further by giving it an even more haunting and nightmarish quality, fantastic.

Lord Abore And Mary Flynn is a Romeo and Juliet-esque style tragedy about doomed lovers which is emotionally devastating and heart-wrenching to listen to, while On A Monday Morning (originally by Cyril Tawney) sums up the sentiments of most people at the start of yet another working week, the sense of resignation and regret is brilliantly reflected in the vocals.

The Turn is the second original composition on the album and its longest at nearly thirteen minutes. There is a Pink Floydian cadence to the vocals and an accompanying space-rock spirit present; as the track progresses the vocals fade out and you are soon enveloped by cascades of glorious feedback and noise. For this reason, the track not only marks the perfect conclusion to the record but also a personal favourite. Majestic.

I have doubts as to whether I’ve been able to do the album justice in this review seeing as I’m someone who is not part of the folk scene nor ever had an especial interest in it. It’s to Lankum‘s credit therefore that they have managed to forge a forward-thinking and interesting release that would appeal to an outsider such as myself. A perfect blend of the traditional past and an exploratory present.

Label: Rough Trade
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Scribed by: Reza Mills