Release Date 05/26/2017
(Afternoon In Bed Records)
Duncan Lloyd is probably best known as the guitarist and musical driving force behind Mercury Music Prize nominated U.K. band, Maximo Park, but Lloyd’s frenetic outpouring has also seen him busy with various projects including Decade In Exile, Nano Kino and solo work under his own name.
It is his solo work which now calls for our attention, with the release of new album, I O U O M E.
At heart, I O U O M E is an album constantly in motion, brightly flickering arrangements lurch through radioactive nights and strange meandering days; an evermore intoxicating experience on repeat listens. It is an album about surviving change, detailing the effort to escape self destructiveness, division and the inevitable breakdown of certain relationships. Candid observations unfold with a depth and effortlessness that is mirrored by it's musicality.
“These songs come from a more personal perspective and it’s fair to say there is a lot of longing in them. They were mostly written travelling on long journeys, often late at night when ideas tend to mutate & evolve in a way which is less black & white, where finer subtleties appear.”
Lloyd's voice has a tactile warmth, weaving around deftly self-produced music, as if through his own nocturnal metropolis. The melodies keep you afloat but between the layers there’s an emotional intimacy borne of experienced songwriting, both nimble and volatile.
‘The City Weeps’ strolls along with inebriated poetic humour, fencing with the drunken advice of others. ‘Tomorrow's Fires’ sounds like the canorous lovechild of Yo La Tengo and Teenage Fanclub, while ‘Heads Of The Bastille’ brings to mind the inventive detail of Silver Jews’ lyricist David Berman.
Songs about ailing relationships, ‘Being Frank’ and ‘Heart in Delay’, sprawl with guitars doubling back on themselves; there is a sense of quiet self loathing, eclipsed by the cosmic harmonies of Nicole Yun from the U.S. band Eternal Summers.
‘Steel Pin Raindrops’, a song about kicking a destructive habit, houses visually striking lyrics that wouldn’t sit uncomfortably in a Neutral Milk Hotel set, echoing the eccentric twists and turns of a Robyn Hitchcock composition.
There’s nostalgia too: ‘Painters’ sails on warped tape loops and distant drum tracks; ‘A Little Lit Up’ rocks along with yearning melancholia; “It’s going to take one stiff drink to make this memory die”. There’s a feeling throughout of having a last drink with friends before leaving town, followed by the loneliness of a new city and a new beginning; “Sometimes sombre / a little lit up / let’s be courageous and talk”. A search if you will, for twilight epiphanies.
‘Really’, the albums closer, was recorded live in Newcastle, with a texturally sparse air and out of body delivery. It is solid songwriting that is unsurprising coming from the man behind the music of many of Maximo Park’s best loved songs from "Books From Boxes” to “Going Missing”.
These themes are universal but Lloyd puts his unique perspective on them, sometimes with inward reflection, sometimes zooming out for the big picture, allowing the listener to fill in details relating to their own life experiences.
Ultimately I O U O M E is an absorbing album, rich with melody, melancholy and wit. With the addition of Tom English (Maximo Park) on drums, the album powers into sonorous focus, never lapsing, it is a full blown journey that is saying something worth hearing and for Lloyd, the end result this time, is his alone.
Duncan Lloyd has released music on Warp Records, Co-Op, Crash Symbols Tapes, PIAS, Universal, EMI & Afternoon In Bed. ‘IOUOME’ is the second album under his own name, he is currently working on the follow up.