Sydney singer-songwriter and one-time Decoder Ring vocalist, Lenka, is set to release her fifth full-length, Attune, on October 13th. Ahead of which, the album is available to stream in full from today, via Rolling Stone Australia.
Right from the outset (the first sound we hear is a quintessentially Australian morning alarm bird chorus), Attune presents as a warm, inviting comforter. Lenka's gentle tone wraps snugly around the folk, electronic minimalism and flirts with far grander, sweeping pop that pulls back before reaching Sia-levels of all-or-nothing, emotive immersion. Blue skied optimism, fragments of worldbeat fun, all bouncy and up-beat, glossy and positive.
Ah, but it's all a mere ruse, isn't it, and before long the curtain drops to reveal a bleakness hidden just below the nursery rhyme-flowing positivity. "I know you'll tear it apart", she matter-of-factly states on "Arrow", switching cupid's job title from matchmaker to heartbreak accomplice. Similarly, between carefree "sha-la-la-la" choruses, triumphant trumpets and the gentle island sway of "Flesh and Bone" she still switches focus for some heavy-handed worldly advice ("life is gonna trip you up in time"). A line blurred from both ends as on "Slow Lane" where she steers the self-analysing ballad from soulful sadness to some attempt at pick-me-up convincing (herself, or us) that we're "doing our best." While, even when brimming with confidence as on the empowering "Crystal Ball", there remains subtle slithers of doubt amidst the rapturous joy ("the future looks fine"). Brave faces that later stare down death itself on LP closer "Disappear", where she delivers an unflinchingly blunt assessment of the afterlife ("I'll be in the air and in the dirt") in a positively chipper tone.
Attune is a remarkable rabbit-warren of an album, sucking us in with its seemingly shallow light-pop accessibility and then keeping us captivated with the underlying darkness and thought-provoking themes that bubble to the surface with little warning throughout. Far more complex than first impressions reveal, it's a slow-burning delight, rewarding on repeat laps.