Words by Abi Whistance / Pics by Chris Close
Giving your work away for someone else to meddle with is tough, but it seems that Sam Lambeth has finally plucked up the courage to do so. Immediately feeling far more sophisticated than anything he’s done before, Ten Years on Four Chords has managed to dodge a Thelma and Louise-style ending, letting someone else take the wheel for a large proportion of the album. Bedroom-quality recordings no more; production has worked wonders on tracks like ‘All the Best’ and ‘Start’, making them potential indie anthems of the Summer – albeit slightly generic ones.
I’ll be the first to say it, there’s a lot going on here. The nature of a ‘best of’ album is to lump all the finest you’ve got into one (rarely neat and tidy) package, and that’s pretty much exactly what has happened.
With a combination of songs from the likes of Quinn, Winona, The MonoBloggers and Lambeth himself, Ten Years on Four Chords does unfortunately struggle to avoid feeling a little jumpy at times – the hop from tracks like ‘Time Stands Still’ to ‘All The Lazy Hipsters’ instigating similar aftereffects to that of whiplash. This is but a small critique though (and perhaps an unfair one) for an album that is, at the end of the day, a compilation and thus fulfilling its purpose.
Yet I do think there’s a lot to be said for the range of quality on this record; most notably tracks associated with Lambeth’s days with Quinn, there’s a clear growth of both maturity and musical ability in his material since then. Influences have become clearer, his sound more fine-tuned. And it seems that with his work post-Quinn, Lambeth has finally found what works best for him.
Of course, I understand the necessity of including tracks from the Quinn era on this album, with the band arguably being one of his most notable ventures musically in the titular Ten Years… However, I can’t help but wish that some remastering had gone on here. With Quinn no longer together I’m sympathetic that this may be inconvenient, and maybe I’m being a little too demanding of a compilation album, but the dip in quality is so notable that it feels a shame to have not done anything about it. There are some good indie tracks on this record and the only thing holding it back from being a solid album throughout is the wavering quality.
Nevertheless, this can only be seen as a positive step forward in Lambeth’s career; Ten Years on Four Chords holds some of the man’s greatest musical achievements of the past decade. From The MonoBloggers to Lambeth gone lone-wolf, there’s an immense landscape of material to cover on this album – weighing in at a heavy seventeen tracks and a whole fifty-eight minutes for you to sink your teeth into. Enjoy.
Ten Years on Four Chords (official trailer) – Sam Lambeth
For more on Sam Lambeth, visit www.soundcloud.com/samlambethmusic
For direct info for the Ten Years on Four Chords showcase at The Victoria on 12th July, including venue details and links to online ticket sales, click here.
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