This article was first published on Louder Than War on 25 July 2013.
Lorna – Heart of Wire (Words On Music)
CD / DL
The fourth album from Nottingham band Lorna brings a sweep of shimmering orchestration and gentle bittersweet lyrics.
For every internationally adored Belle and Sebastian there are a handful of woefully underrated indiepop counterparts persevering quietly with their art. Nottingham sextet Lorna are just one of these quietly revered bands deserving of a wider fanbase.
Formed way back in 2000 the band, fronted by husband and wife team Mark Rolfe and Sharon Cohen-Rolfe, release fourth album Heart of Wire on American imprint Words on Music. The album is full of sweeping, shimmering orchestration, gently-delivered bittersweet lyrics and occasional, intriguing, electronic layers. It’s a highly recommended listen, an album of beauty.
Influences here are clear – early Belle and Sebastian, Camera Obscura, Teenage Fanclub – lots of Scottish indie comes through on these songs. Fragile and intimate conversations in song by the couple sharing vocal duties make this a very personal-sounding album continually poised to sweep you off your feet with a swell of instrumentation and unexpected, but not out of place, uptempo moments of gathering strength.
Starting with a quiet pitter-patter of musical rain opener Sounds We Hear introduces the album with the gentleness that is prevalent throughout. The chorus swells, a message appearing as breath clouds an icy window, before fading away again into the tip tap of notes diminishes at the song’s close.
Mark’s male vocal takes the lead on As She Goes By, giving a warmth and trans-Atlantic vibe to draw you into the sway, still sounding vulnerable but less dreamlike than some of its album siblings.
As the midpoint of the album Old Shanklin Street becomes a warm lullaby, uplifting bounce to the back and crystalline vocal to the fore. Strings give a sad note as the song slows but it’s sadness with the light of hope shone on it.
The use of a 1934 Elgar passage on Mina and Marco leads beautifully into the male/female vocal waltz and gentle story-telling lyric. With the ghost of Isobel Campbell-era Belle and Sebastian in evidence on this track and throughout the album this is a glimmering indiepop gem.
And although it’s a delicate record there is nothing insubstantial about it, an assumption so often wrongly placed on this genre. Neither is it as cool-to-the-listen as the title suggests but is rather a warm and natural sounding collection that will keep you coming back.
The album closes with Chasing Amy, near-seven minutes of beautiful bass notes and glimmering but fuzzy vocal; an indiepop take on drone. It leaves you as gently as it arrived.
Heart of Wire is irridescent cloud of blossom dancing along the path at your feet, this is a finger tracing along sun-warmed skin. This the the moment you inhale on a summer’s evening, dust motes dappled in the sunlight around you. This is simple pleasures in musical form – comforting and by turns ethereal and earthy – all beautifully delivered and produced.
All words by Sarah Lay.