- 23 Mar 23
A groundbreaking reintroduction to the Dublin four-piece
In Lankum’s experimental, unconventional, and sometimes slightly unhinged hands, concepts of tradition and history have always been malleable – with ancient ways simultaneously respected and uprooted, to create music that comes from an inherently contemporary place.
But attempts to compartmentalise the group under an ‘Irish folk revival’ tag has always felt a bit off, given the expansive pool of influences at play. 2019’s Choice Music Prize-winning The Livelong Day played a significant role in helping them transcend such conversations, largely thanks to the contribution of their engineer and producer John “Spud” Murphy. But if that album was a doubling down on the formidable drones and heavily textured atmospheres, their new LP, False Lankum, pushes their sound even further into the abyss.
Often as urgent as air-raid sirens, and at other times taking the form of an immersive, transcendent trip, False Lankum is a sprawling cinematic journey that – despite running an epic one hour and ten minutes – is navigated with masterful control and flow.
The group have always been deeply informed by international sounds, and here they’re facing that world with more conviction than ever – particularly in the first section of the album, as they channel the spirits of long-gone American mountain communities and sea-folk alike, before taking them through a centuries-spanning time-warp.
‘Master Crowley’s’, meanwhile, is a classic example of the group’s ability to take a well-known tune and build an increasingly dark, demented world around it, with layers of instrumentation that swing from virtuosic performances to the slamming of makeshift objects. If anything – as Daragh Lynch's original track 'The Turn' attests – they’ve become more confident in their wildly textured soundscapes, and unafraid to push at the boundaries of time, space or their listeners’ comfort.
But they can still straddle that line between the gloriously deranged and the blindingly beautiful – with Radie Peat’s vocals on ‘Newcastle’, inspired by Dublin act The Deadlians’ version, offering a captivating respite from the white-knuckle intensity.
The playful rough-and-readiness of Lankum’s approach on previous releases has been gradually replaced by a notably more polished chaos on False Lankum – but they haven’t lost the brazenness that’s always marked Lankum as a special force, and that madcap magic continues to guide their boldest creative directions.
Named after the ballad from which they took their name, False Lankum being presented as a quasi self-titled project, four albums in, feels apt – serving as both a groundbreaking reintroduction for steadfast fans, and a crucial launching pad for new audiences. It should see them take a major step forward on the international stage, with some of the most fearlessly forward-thinking music that’s been produced on these shores in decades.
Listen to False Lankum, out March 24, here.