New Zealand’s James Milne, aka Lawrence Arabia, released his fourth album last week. I was pretty excited for this album as a follow up from 2012’s The Sparrow and it’s hard not to be, given his résumé of a Silver Scroll, a Taite music prize, and a VNZMA. In fact I’d consider him one of the most consistent musicians we’ve got here. The thing that’s so great about Lawrence’s music is that his albums are a real mixed bag of playful pop songs scattered with ballads that swell and change and beg you to hum along. Catchy and cheerful melodies, yet wistful lyrics.
However upon listening to his newest album, it felt like something was missing. There’s a definite lack of playfulness and fun that made his last two albums so charming. This isn’t to say it’s not an enjoyable record, because there are a handful of great songs on here. Earworm tracks like “Sweet Dissatisfaction” will still get you tapping your foot and the nostalgia of “O Heathcote” will have you thinking of your formative years, but perhaps it’s that disconnect of styles that dampens their impact. In fact it feels like more of a collection of songs from across his music career, taking elements of each release with them, rather than a well-honed album with a consistent mood or theme from start to finish. If you like his last two albums, give it a listen. If this is your first taste of Lawrence Arabia, you might find it hard to get fully involved.