The tracks switch tempos at unexpected points without becoming chaotic, while lyrics are approached from different angles according to the ebb and flow of the music. For all the shape-shifting, Rambutan is a debut that confidently makes its mark.

London’s Landshapes recently compressed their name down from Lulu and the Lampshades, which was a bit of a mouthful and made them sound like a go-go girl band. The one-time-Lampshades were best known for ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me (Cups)’, a take on a Carter Family classic from the 30s that was in turn covered by numerous YouTubers and, most famously, by Anna Kendrick in Pitch Perfect.

 

The consolidation of the band name is matched with a focused sound that’s very much their own. Their love of traditional folk is evident, but it’s given a modern twist and darker edge for their full-length album for the reliably great Bella Union label. The four-piece playfully skirt around various genres, but unite them with purpose and form a distinctive, cohesive album that’s easy to warm to.

 

The deceptively titled opener, ‘Racehorse’, is a gradually unfolding ballad that creeps in to the eerie sound of creaking gates. Its lethargic pace is atypical of the album and we’re soon pulled into the restless energy of the assertive ‘In Limbo’, a riveting highlight that rides along with propulsive bursts of post-punk guitar wig-outs. 

 

4/5 stars

 

BY CHRIS GIRDLER

 

Rambutan is out now through Bella Union / CoOp / PIAS.

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