Lamb | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe


Even as Portishead remains MIA, the proliferation of copycats continues unabated, with mediocrities like Morcheeba, Moloko, and Hooverphonic garnering the lion's share of attention. The British duo Lamb, however, is easily the most distinctive and compelling of the lot, breaking new ground instead of merely treading water. In fact, apart from a certain moody Euro feel and the gorgeous, jazz- and folk-inflected vocals of Louise Rhodes, which do recall those of Beth Gibbons, Lamb has very little in common with Portishead at all. The stark soundscapes of Andrew Barlow perfectly accentuate Rhodes's strengths. There's a fair share of languid hip-hop beats on the duo's debut album, Lamb (Mercury), for her to drift over, like on the haunting, minimal "Trans Fatty Acid" and the lush "Gorecki"; and elsewhere the cello-and-voice spareness of "Zero" sounds rather like something by Sinead O'Connor. The most striking material, however, is marked by complex drum 'n' bass patterns. Rhodes's sensuously evocative singing on "Cotton Wool" is one of the album's highlights, but what makes the tune is the tension between her voice and the sophisticated yet brutal rhythm programs, which rarely repeat. The nonstop shuffle of beats on "Gold" offers a more propulsive framework for Rhodes, while the kaleidoscopic instrumental swirl of "Lusty" seems an ideal companion for her quavery voice. Lamb makes its Chicago debut opening for the Icelandic dance outfit Gus Gus. Tuesday, 7 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-0203. PETER MARGASAK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Lamb photo by Karen Lamond.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Give $35/month →  
  Give $10/month →  
  Give  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Peter Margasak

Agenda Teaser

Galleries & Museums
"Artists Run Chicago 2.0" Hyde Park Art Center
September 01
Galleries & Museums
August 21

Popular Stories