Lump: Lump review – Laura Marling’s melodic side-project lingers in the mind

On paper, Lump sounds like a particularly eye-roll-inducing side project. Conceived by Laura Marling and Mike Lindsay of folk group Tunng, the venture was christened by Marling’s five-year-old goddaughter and is described by the pair as a fully autonomous being that takes the form of a dancing yeti (see video below). But however littered with in-jokes Lump may be, the songs that make up the duo’s debut album are never alienating. Instead, the record – which is underpinned by Lindsay’s ambient sound cycle – rings with an unusual but uncomplicated beauty.

With its piping flutes and stilted acoustic guitar, opener Late to the Flight is reminiscent of an old children’s TV theme tune; later songs are characterised by twinkling synths, twanging guitars and undercurrents of odd rattling. Over this backdrop, Marling sings about lucid dreaming, smiley-face T-shirts, yoga poses and all manner of psychedelic tropes without ever seeming hackneyed or overblown, her voice shifting between choral sweetness, sibilant sprechgesang and a throaty drawl. Whereas her solo work has veered toward Americana, here Marling sounds satisfyingly British both in delivery and lyricism – on Late to the Flight she calls someone a “tart”; May I Be the Light centres around a ditty about making beds that recalls Pam Ayres poems and the limericks of Edward Lear.

At just seven songs (including a track that consists of Marling reading the credits; she’s complained that internet domination has left them without a home), Lump is brief, but Marling’s gorgeously uncanny melodies – which, like Lindsay’s synth sounds, have an other-timely quality – are dazzling enough to linger indefinitely.

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