Lali Puna – Our Inventions – Album Review

Lali Puna release their fourth LP, a gentler, more restrained addition to their repertoire.

Written by David McNamara

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It has been over six years since Lali Puna released a full-length album, but the four-piece from Weilheim, Germany have been far from stagnant. Guitarist Markus Acher and his other project, The Notwist, have been busy creating and touring the critically-acclaimed 2008 album, ‘The Devil, You and Me‘. He was also preoccupied with Tied and Tickled Trio, alongside drummer Christoph Brandner. Still, such a prolonged sabbatical is sure to test the patience of the band’s most devoted followers. Their latest effort, ‘Our Inventions’, has to deliver something pretty spectacular to justify the wait and prove that they are still relevant to the scene they helped define. For the most part, it succeeds with flying colours.

In comparison with their previous release, ‘Faking the Books’, Lali Puna have made some significant changes to their musical landscape. The frantic riffs of “Micronomic” and the dance floor filling drum rhythms of “B-Movie” are nowhere to be found on this record. There is also a much more restrained use of vocal effects compared with their previous work.

Instead, the electronic pop pioneers have taken a much more subdued approach that relies heavily on warm synths, sophisticated drum loops and a whole heap of atmospheric samples. Opening track “Rest Your Head” is a soothing slow burner, before “Remember” launches into fully-blown down tempo bliss. Instrumental track “Future Tense”, with its pulsating beats and mild industrial samples, proves Lali Puna don’t need to rely on tender, heartfelt lyrics to convey emotion. As always, Valerie Trebeljahr’s vocals are an absolute joy throughout and fit perfectly with the band’s melancholic tendencies.

The only real disappointment on the entire album is the collaboration with Yellow Magic Orchestra’s Yukihiro Takahashi on “Out There”. To be honest, it’s not a particularly weak track. It’s actually a beautiful love song with perfectly balanced vocal harmonies and a fitting way to close out the album. It just seems like the Japanese singer’s talent could have been put to better use.

‘Our Inventions’ deals with the theme of alienation on a regular basis and hints at a distrust of technological progress, which is quite ironic considering this album proves that Lali Puna are still at the forefront of cutting-edge electronic pop music. On “Move On”, Trebeljahr asserts: “No one will recognise your shine. Try harder.” The subject material may not be anything particularly new for the elegiac songwriter, but it does strengthen her position as a voice for the love ridden and disenchanted.

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