With each passing generation of popular music, there are tropes that remain constant despite an ever-shifting landscape. One of the most prominent roles that has been played by many capable actors is the role of pleasantly listenable, broadly appealing and emotionally based rock and roll band. It’s been an important niche coming and going in the different eras of music history, the successor to the genre-defining acts that blazed rock’s trail in the late sixties and early seventies. Any band that can carry a melodic tune easily provides a recognizable touchstone of a given musical era. Lullwater and their eponymous album fits that bill nicely.
Concurrent to carrying the torch for melodic rock and roll, Lullwater is also attempting to be a flag-bearer for alternative rock in its most classic form. As one might imagine, this leaves Lullwater as a band slightly out of time, as each aspect of their music takes me back to my high school days and the wild west of alternative music after the demise of grunge. Lullwater’s capitalization on the elements of that era, combined with the idiom of late-era Pearl Jam hardly represents the bleeding edge these days.
First and foremost though, Lullwater is reminiscent of the early days of the Foo Fighters. This band has the same duplicitous nature; an act that has more horsepower under the hood than they are typically willing to show. You need not get farther than album starter “Oddline” to see the evidence, as this is the first of several cuts that hums along but does not roar.
This becomes doubly frustrating because a listener can hear the potential contained in all of these cuts, but the grand climax never happens. There are plenty of solid songs that are well written and realized, “Albatross” in the middle of the record is just one of them, but there remains an aftertaste of unrealized possibility.
The other half of Lullwater is the standard soul-searching alt-rock ballad fare that we’ve all heard before. There’s not a lot to say about songs like “Curiosity”, because the preceding sentence groups all these songs into the ‘familiar’ category. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s nothing new, either. If you’ve ever picked up a Bush album, you get the idea.
Lullwater’s album is perfectly fair for what it is, but if you’re over a certain age and have lived through the cycle before, it’s all going to sound very familiar. There are sure signs of promise, and some of the cuts are possessed of a nice bite and solid riffing, but I don’t feel compelled to storm the gates with this on my shield.