Sunday 2 April 2017
It’s 5pm on a Sunday at the Common Room and a twinge of excitement nudges at me as I watch a blanket slide off a makeshift table and reveal electronic music gadgetry.
The push of a button activates a pre-programmed 80’s electronic drum pattern, with super clean production and a bouncy swing; this track proves to be the most energetic. The remainder of the performance carries a level of introspective vulnerability and heartfelt emotion. So much so I was content to stay seated, relaxing with a tasty craft beer, taking it all in.
Warm synth riffs float into most tracks, often closely followed with heavily vocoded vocals. Lead singer Lake Smith paints a reality, with slightly introverted mannerisms, of ‘shitty flats and paying too much rent’. And as with the overall tone of the gig, the unassuming message is delivered with an endearing and likeable level of sincerity.
Weaving through further tracks I recognise influences of Cyndi Lauper, Laurie Anderson, James Blake and Miike Snow. Lake South deliver a somewhat commercial, familiar sound that is accomplished and full of potential. It is brave to take a conventional approach to laying vocals over whole tracks, underpinned by minimalist electronic rhythms; I encourage them to check out Apparat for new ideas.
Some songs were unquestionably catchy, particularly the great melody and swing on the title track ‘If You’re Born on an Island the Ocean Heals You’. How lucky to have these gents share their emotional synth pop infused inner-world with me on a Sunday. Occasionally I fell off their ride and caught myself feeling into a bigger stage, a sweaty crowd, at night. I’d go see them again if that version was on offer. I’ll be buying a few tracks from this new album. Kiwi music needs our love.