Formed through a passionate creative drive and mutual appreciation of each other’s work, LYR is a musical machine that reverberates an incredibly singular effusion; the triumvirate of Sigur Rós-like ambient decorations, blissfully gilded and emotionally wrought piano and evocative vocals, and masterfully moving poetry delivered a truly unique, collaborative project.
The group – comprised of Poet Laureate Simon Armitage, musician/producer Patrick J Pearson, and singer-songwriter Richard Walters – released their wholly inventive debut album Call in the Crash Team last year; today, they continue their refreshing combinations of spoken-word and ambience with “Winter Solstice”.
A welcome continuation of the opalescent paths trodden on Call in the Crash Team, but also an invigoration of new intonations, “Winter Solstice” marries a soaring, radiating, ‘beam-of-sunlight’-type aural canopy alongside the conversely tender, pensive, and yearning introspection of Armitage’s words – an element at the emotional core of offerings such as previous “Never Good with Horses’. Between the iridescent current perpetuated by Pearson’s seductive bricoleurist production style mixing of musical styles and effusive piano, as well as Walter’s opulently melodic, soaring vocals, these stirring words – “Knowing at best I’m the ten or eleventh in line/I know I’m not really your favourite person/But you’re mine” – reverberate with increasingly fervent emotion after each listen.
Speaking of the track – and this achingly beautiful expression of “unrequited love”, as well as the contrast between the exuberant instrumentation and longing words; the contrast between the title and the track’s Spring release – LYR say:
“We’ve always been interested in beauty – in melody, in harmony – even if that beauty is the exquisite sadness of unrequited love! Despite its wintry setting, we’re glad this single is being released in spring, with light and hope on the horizon.”
‘Winter Solstice’ is strikingly intimate, akin to much of LYR’s debut album, and is written “as if we’re eavesdropping on someone’s thought process, with lyrics from the heart and music from the soul.” The track also features vocals from Prefab Sprout’s Wendy Smith, vocals which further this moving tone. This vocal contribution sees Smith echoing the vibrant refrain between Armitage’s verse, leaving stoic, reflective impressions across the track’s moving, ethereal landscape.
It was these very words – “desire as a sylph figured creature who changes her mind”, a quote taken from Prefab Sprout’s ‘Desire As’ – that ignited the sparks which became ‘Winter Solstice’. The track’s atmosphere and direction was born from said quote: after eventually finding Prefab Sprout’s famously reclusive lead singer – Paddy McAloon – to request permission to use the line, the band were finally able to find him, and he generously gave his blessing for the use of his line in the song. Following this success, LYR asked Prefab Sprout’s Wendy Smith to provide vocals to bring the words to life – the band were overjoyed after Smith happily agreed.
See the video for ‘Winter Solstice’ below.
LYR also hope to perform a socially-distanced show at London’s Jazz Cafe on 27th May, marking their first live performance since early March 2020 at Leeds’ Brudenell Social Club. Tickets are available here. Additionally, LYR will embark on a string of live shows across the UK in October – see the full set of dates below; order tickets here.
LYR UK Tour Dates – October 2021:
21 – Newcastle, The Cluny2
22 – Manchester, Gullivers
23 – Glasgow, King Tut’s
25 – Leeds, Howard Assembly Room
26 – Bristol, Louisiana
28 – Norwich, Norwich Arts Centre
29 – Plymouth, The Junction
31 – Brighton, The Prince Albert