Apparatjik Presents Lowell - If You Can, Solve This Jumble
Lowell means 'wolf cub', but there's very little lupine to this Toronto-based singer-songwriter. A happy case of misdirection then, because there's far more to the young lady who not so long ago caught the attention of experimental pop 'supergroup' Apparatjik, enough for them to put their name and production nous to this, her debut effort.
At 25 minutes short, these seven tracks sit awkwardly between album and drawn out EP, but If You Can, Solve This Jumble manages to still feel cohesive, despite there being no clear relationship between each track. It's as though Lowell is charting musical territory relatively unexplored for her, throwing a bunch of tracks at the wall to see what sticks. Thankfully, most of it does, which means she's going to have a hell of a time deciding on a theme for her next release.
To illustrate, the first two tracks are wildly different in style. 'Kids' opens up with a scuzzy, percussive intro into a catchy, repetitive mid-section and ends with a really quite epic extended outro that Jonas Bjerre (of Mew fame/genius) also puts his dulcet tones to. It's a corker, maybe even the best of the record. Compare that against 'The Birds', an affecting and tender piano led ballad with a sultry vocal and a gorgeous, lilting melody that showcases Lowell's fantastic timbre and ear for unusual melody.
The rest of the album carries on in this mode of constantly challenging your expectations, which of course is only a good thing. So good, in fact, that at the close of 'That's The Thing About Us' I'm repeatedly left with a lingering dissatisfaction at not quite knowing where we stand. Was I just listening to Lowell? Or Apparatjik feat. Lowell? Either way, in giving space to a variety of (her) voices this small but perfectly formed record is captivating.