Album Of The Week

Album Of The Week: This Is Lorelei Box For Buddy, Box For Star

Double Double Whammy
Double Double Whammy

If Water From Your Eyes take an “everything but the kitchen sink” approach to making music, Nate Amos’ solo work as This Is Lorelei tosses in the whole damn kitchen. Referring to This Is Lorelei as Amos’ “side project” would be inaccurate. While the New York-based singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist is best known as half of the Matador-signed duo making anarchic, mechanical stoner pop, he’s been releasing an honestly intimidating amount of music under the This Is Lorelei moniker for the past decade, averaging at least one album every year, often an EP or two as well. Over the course of his discography, Amos has ricocheted between glitchy bedroom pop, soft folk balladry, rambly slacker rock, and noisy garage grunge. On Box For Buddy, Box For Star, he streamlines his focus without sacrificing his omnivorous sonic appetite.

“Perfect Hand” punctuates declarations of love with telephone ringing sound effects, a juxtaposition reminiscent of the more earnest offerings from groups like Kero Kero Bonito and 100 gecs. The similarly sparkling “Dancing In The Club” scatters playing card motifs and scenes of self-sabotage throughout an electropop beat, and all of it revolves around a hypnotic mirrorball hook. Amos’ knack for crafting shimmery, tastefully Auto-tuned pop songs like these is impressive enough on its own. But perhaps the even greater feat is his ability to make these songs make sense alongside the soft, swaying acoustic “Angel’s Eye,” “Two Legs,” and the titular “Box For Buddy, Box For Star” — all of which solidify Amos’ place among the generation of Elliott Smith-indebted singer-songwriters like Phoebe Bridgers, Alex G, and Greg Mendez. Like these artists, Amos’ plainspoken confessionalism often manifests in childlike, bittersweet storytelling. It’s in the striking sorrow sneaking through the singsongy lull of lines like “My buddy he bit me/ I still feel his teeth/ And I try to make light but he suffocates love,” and the way he addresses the subject of “Two Legs” as “my guy” like it’s the most tender term of endearment imaginable.

On “A Song That Sings About You,” Amos pulls off a possible Purple Mountains reference and an undoubtedly Jeff Mangum-influenced inflection on the word “aeroplane,” as the strings surround him like the all-encompassing solitude of heartbreak and life on tour. The track winds its way through folksy acoustic arrangements in a dreamlike haze, mirroring Amos’ disoriented, sometimes stream-of-consciousness descriptions of wandering around various cities. So it goes on the pattering single “I’m All Fucked Up,” where Amos’ vocal delivery manages to sound simultaneously lazy and wired as he talk-sings about misadventures in Madrid, stretching the line between romanticism and cynicism to paper-thin proportions. His fragmented vignettes come together to tell the story of an ill-fated romance, converging at the sneakily catchy chorus to convey the experience of judging someone for wanting to be with you: “You little sick thing you had your fun…You know some people’d wanna go, you know they’d wanna run away/ But you’re all fucked up, and you wanna stay here with me.”

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Amos even musters a jingly bedroom pop take on a Norman Fucking Rockwell!-era Lana breakup ballad with “Where’s Your Love Now,” which subs in what sounds like a children’s toy orchestra for a sweeping string section. His slacker vocals are dust coughed up from the velvet lining of a music box, the ballerina figurine still twirling at its center. In the hands of a lesser songwriter, lyrics like “I’m gonna let me be angry/ ‘Cause I tried to be fine for too damn long…I’m gonna let me be selfish/ ‘Cause I laid down my life for you all last year” could come off as the proselytizing of a self-identified “empath” preaching a watered-down idea of self-care, but Amos delivers them with such frankness and conviction so as not to dull their ring of truth.

To say that there’s truth in every cliché feels like a cliché of its own, but it’s clear that Amos understands the power of clichés when they’re well-placed and sparingly used. In a pop music landscape rife with wink-and-nod lyrics that sound lab-engineered to become Instagram captions or viral TikTok sounds, it’s refreshing to hear genuinely clever and quotable lines emerge organically. (When cuffing season comes around, will we be seeing hard-launch photos of couples in pumpkin patches with the caption “I might crush in summer, but I love in fall”? Probably not, but the free publicity for This Is Lorelei would be well deserved.) A song as stunning as “Dancing In The Club” has earned the predictable, tossed-off self-loathing of the line “I’m my own worst enemy,” which somehow doesn’t feel hacky when it follows the album’s most satisfying and unexpectedly devastating lyrical passage: “I sang into my phone/ I ate my dinner in the dark/ and I fucked up my guitar while I was fucking up my heart/ While I was singing Steely Dan/ Crying ‘Shake it!’ in the wind/ Yeah a loser never wins/ And I’m a loser, always been.” No “Babylon Sisters” reference has ever hit quite this hard.

When Amos gets referential, it never feels shallow or indulgent. The shoutout to his other band (“My love sees a star somehow/ Through the water in my eyes”) and the metanarrative lyrics on the closing track “An Extra Beat For You And Me” give the record a tentative happy ending that never gets too saccharine. Its fast-paced strumming, invocation of Satanism to symbolize freedom and self-expression, and cautious joy in Amos’ exclamation of “Oh God, I made it out somehow!” feel thoroughly Darniellian, priming it for a live rendition whose payoff rivals the catharsis of Mountain Goats crowd pleasers like “The Best Ever Death Metal Band In Denton.” “An Extra Beat For You And Me” operates as a sort of amorphous love hymn between the musician and the listener, connected by the music that’s saved them both. It’s Box For Buddy, Box For Star’s most exuberant moment, one that chooses to end a collection of songs largely about failure, uncertainty, and loneliness with momentary solace, illuminated by blue light and pain that “glows in the wind.” It’s these little sparks, these fleeting moments of connection scattered throughout the record, that light up its coordinates and cut through the dark.

Box For Buddy, Box For Star is out 6/14 on Double Double Whammy. Stream it below.

Other albums of note out this week:
• The Decemberists’ As It Ever Was, So It Will Be Again
• Kneecap’s Fine Art
• REZN’s Burden
• Martha Skye Murphy’s Um
• Jess Cornelius’ CARE/TAKING
• Sea Girls’ Midnight Butterflies
• John Cale’s POPtical Illusion
• Black Country Communion’s V
• Cola’s The Gloss
• NxWorries’ Why Lawd?
• GARLANDS’ Turn The Sky
• Lindsey Stirling’s Duality
• Walt Disco’s The Warping
• The Early November’s The Early November
• Annabel’s Worldviews
• Moby’s always centered at night
• Meghan Trainor’s Timeless
• Anna Prior’s Almost Love EP
• Bored At My Grandmas House’s Show And Tell
• John Grant’s The Art Of The Lie
• Russian Baths’ Mirror
• Less-O’s Cri du Cœur Mini Album
• SHAED’s Spinning Out
• Blvck Hippie’s Basketball Camp
• Sam Morgan’s Daffodils & Dirt
• Will Gregory Moog Ensemble’s Heat Ray
• Diamanda Galás’ Diamanda Galás In Concert
• Fu Manchu’s The Return Of Tomorrow
• James Vincent McMorrow’s Wide Open, Horses
• Eamon Fogarty’s I’m An Animal Now
• Pride Month Barbie’s All The Girls In The Room Say ‘Sorry’
• $uicideboy$’s New World Depression
• Crypt Sermon’s The Stygian Rose
• British Murder Boys’ Active Agents And House Boys
• RJD2’s Visions Out Of Limelight
• Carlos Niño & Friends’ Placenta
• Little Feat’s Feats Don’t Fail Me Now
• The Dead Tongues’ Body Of Light
• Moneybagg Yo’s SPEAK NOW
• Me First & The Gimme Gimmes’ Blow it…At Madison’s Quinceañera!
• KRM & KMRU’s Disconnect
• Earth Tongue’s Great Haunting
• Staples Jr. Singers’ Searching
• WØØLs’ Santa Rosa EP
• Madeline Hawthorne’s Tales From Late Nights & Long Drives
• The tribute compilation The Henry Mancini 100th Sessions – Henry Has Company
• µ-Ziq’s Grush
• Seal’s Seal (Deluxe Edition)
• Julie Christmas’ Ridiculous And Full Of Blood
• Immersion’s Nanocluster Vol.2
• Jeffrey Silverstein’s Roseway EP
• Florrie’s The Lost Ones
• Zsela’s Big For You
• Lola Young’s It Wasn’t Meant For You Anyway
• Hockey Dad’s Rebuild, Repeat
• Paul McCartney & Wings’ One Hand Clapping
• Richie Culver’s Hostile Environments
• Stand Still’s Steps Ascending
• Normani’s Dopamine
• George Benson’s Dreams Do Come True: When George Benson Meets Robert Farnon
• Ebbb’s All At Once EP
• Fax Gang & Parannoul’s Scattersun
• Pocketboy Solid’s Pocketboy Solid
• Carly Cosgrove’s The Cleanest Of Houses Are Empty
• Donte Thomas & Kaelin Ellis’ an APPLE a day
• Otto A. Totland’s Exin
• Mike Campbell & The Dirty Knobs’ Vagabonds, Virgins & Misfits
• Lindsey Buckingham’s 20th Century Lindsey Box Set
• SWIFTUMZ’s Simply The Best
• Bilal’s Live At Glasshaus Live Album
• Ghost Party’s Ghost Moves
• Monsters Of Folk’s Monsters Of Folk (15th Anniversary Expanded Reissue)
• BALWEZO WESTIJIZ’s Tower Of Famine
• Victor Ray’s i tried EP
• Raveena’s Where The Butterflies Go In The Rain
• Immersion & Cubzoa’s Nanocluster Vol 2 EP
• Fana Hues’ MOTH
• Kaitlyn Olson’s After The Rain EP
• Blvck Hippie’s Basketball Camp
• Don Toliver’s Hardstone Psycho
• David Bowie’s Rock ’N’ Roll Star! Box Set
• Sideshow’s F.U.N. T.O.Y.
• Liily – Liily EP
• Tove Lo & SG Lewis’ Heat EP
• Chicken P’s 4evaLit
• Spencer Zahn’s Live At Unheard
• Picture Parlour’s Face In The Picture EP
• Infinity Song’s Metamorphosis Complete

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