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I’ve been a fan of this Olympia, Washington-based indie-pop big band since I saw them play live in the States in 2008. This is their latest outing, following Oh, The Places We’ll Go. Places is a good development from their first album, the self titled Lake, which seemed so quiet as to barely be there, folk-pop that wanders right past. Places is a lot more like their live show; louder, and more fun. But Let’s Build a Roof develops their sound a lot more, and gives them a distinction that’s worth listening to.
This album wanders through a lot of new sounding territory. The opening track, ‘Breathing’, has a soft rock vibe that might suit fans of the National. Things head a bit darker with ‘Gravel’ before heading into the syncopated Pitchfork-featured ‘Madagascar’, which has an almost funky dub feel, but not in a way that will scare off indie pop fans. It features great vocal effects that pop up again throughout the album, evidence I guess of the better production on this album than the previous ones. The call and response ‘Sing 99 90’ is a standout. The album meanders along its feel good path, with tunes like ‘Remote Control Cars’ showing that Lake is a band of optimism and delight. If I had to choose a lowlight, I would go with ‘Christmas Island’, which dances with the kind of sweet twee simple sounds that the band generally does such a good job of avoiding.
Lake play a good game with light and dark, electronic and acoustic. They professionally master the multi-instrumental sound of which I’m so fond, blending horns with adept songwriting, vocal melodies and harmonies reminiscent of Fleet Foxes. And it’s all so fresh! It’s taken me a long time to write this review at all, because I keep giving up and just listening to the album. I catch myself listening to other bands and just thinking, ‘Lake is so much better’. It makes me wish that I had much better speakers.