Lenoy Barkai showcases a range of influences on her new long listen ‘Paper Crown’, encompassing elements of classic rock, singer-songwriter, alt-pop and atmospheric indie. An inspiring creative album showcasing some stunning musical ideas and emotional depth it’s a shimmering debut displaying a lot of promise for the future.
The album’s opener ‘Chemical Emily’ blends atmospheric tendencies with ear-worm melodies, led by a distorted boxy bass and piano to pull you into Lenoy’s alternative-pop sound straight from the start of the album. Ebbing through layers of swelling synth, atmospheric reverbs and Lenoy’s silky, whispery delivery, the track bursts into life at the mid point as Lenoy lets rip, soaring her vocals an octave higher with a shiver inducing intensity.
A track which floats over you, lulling you into a dreamlike state with it’s airy atmosphere, ‘Chemical Emily’ reels you in ready for the rest of the album.
Elsewhere on the album, ‘Me and These Keys’ introduces a Beatles-esque swagger, biting guitar lines, James Bond worthy chord changes and Lenoy’s haunting octave vocals. The album’s lead single ‘Just Enough Of You’ showcases a more direct Pop approach from Barkai with relatable lyricism, a light uplifting sense of melancholic longing and a lovely, gentle acoustic backing.
One of the album’s stand outs ‘Do I Really Wanna Know’ offers a taste of Lenoy’s darker, more rock-centric side with a looming sense of steam punk intensity. Developing from it’s eery piano vocal led opening into a fully fledged boxy, shuffling rock tune with tight guitar riffs and a bubbling distortion of Barkai’s vocals, the track grows through electronic bass, encompassing a huge variety of influences in a cohesive and utterly intoxicating sonic experience comparable to Radiohead.
Elsewhere ‘The Decider’ featuring Nick Catto offers a downbeat side to the album with beautiful intertwining vocal harmonies and a melancholic, heartfelt tone whilst ‘The Kill’ leans further into the synth led side of Lenoy’s musical repertoire.
Towards the end of the album, ‘2 Old Dogs’, is a late contender for my favourite of the album. Powerfully honest and heartfelt in its lyricism talking about the ins and outs of a relationship – saying some of the things its hard to say on the day to day and instead putting that energy into a cathartic musical space, the result is a riveting listen. The reverb tinted crack of rim shots throughout and swelling electronic bass give the track a brilliant impact as Lenoy’s vocals dance above, layering melodies. Simplistic yet beautiful.
Closing with the dark ballad and title track ‘Paper Crown’, the piano and strings sounds that are prevalent across the album close things out on a track comparable in part Nick Cave, but, with a resounding sense of optimism in the latter stages.
A great album full of dark and light, Lenoy Barkai’s inner most thoughts, honesty about life, personal feelings and relationships, this feels like a body of work which Lenoy has put her heart and soul into and it shines through. There’s something fluorescently appealing about the personal nature of the album, about the varying genres and depth in instrumentation which makes this album special, much, much more than just a collection of singles.
While the ideas are fantastic, my only slight question would be surrounding the production, which at times feels like it’s trying to restrain some of the ideas within the track, like theres a huge explosion of cinematic instrumental madness trying to escape but it’s being held within the realms of a singer-songwriter with tight compression and a feeling that the songs should be in some way gentle. I think Lenoy has some wonderful, exciting musical ideas and I would love to see her fully push her sound to the limits in the future, really let her sound explode.
That said, there is something warming about this album as a whole, it feels homely and heartfelt and in that, it’s a brilliant put together collection of work.