Lambchop – Mr. M

written by: February 27, 2012
Release Date: February 21, 2012


Formed in 1986, Lambchop has been producing music together for well over two decades, resulting in 11 full length albums. The eleventh and most recent of those albums is called Mr. M, and while the album is not a game changer for the band, it is a very solid, quiet album that many will immediately appreciate and one that clearly took a lot of love and dedication to make.

Mr. M is a very laid-back, lounge music influenced record, so those looking to rock may want to check elsewhere. Those looking for something introspective, melancholic, and a bit pastoral will find that Lambchop’s newest is just what they need.

The music is driven by the vocals, but they remain understated, never fully sung, but kept simple and relaxed. Accompanying the vocals are some light drums, violins and a grand piano, which set the mood but never dominate the scene. The music is never lyrically dense, but it is not obvious or stupid either, just right for a casual listen.

A few songs capture the mood best, like the crooning “If Not I’ll Just Die,” and the semi-titular track “Mr. Met,” which starts with trudging vocals that beat alongside spurts of instrumentation, and slowly builds over its seven minute run time into a satisfying but not overly dramatic climax.

The few songs that really break from this mold are refreshing changes of pace. The slightly more upbeat “The Good Life (Is Wasted)” and instrumental-only “Gar” change things up just a little bit, which is nice. Also cool is the sixth track, “Nice Without Mercy,” which starts with an unexpected and creepy sample that loops quietly in the background for much of the song.

A lot works for the album, but Mr. M has a few downsides, too. The largest of these being that it runs perhaps just a bit too long. Many of the album’s 11 songs stretch past the five minute mark, and while that can occasionally be okay, the album’s very slow, methodical, dreary style might leave listeners weary by the time the last song has run its course.

The album as a whole probably could’ve used some slight trimming. The only other minor complaint that can be levied against the record is that it doesn’t shake things up enough. While the aforementioned “Gar” and “Nice Without Mercy” are noticeably different, in some ways they aren’t different enough.

Most of the songs follow a very similar tempo and mood, and while it makes for a cohesive whole, there are times that you might want the album to be a little more shocking or unexpected.

Still, those few flaws don’t really hold a lot of water when compared to the powerful ambience and emotion that Mr. M captures, and shouldn’t turn listeners away; Mr. M is a good album. It has a style and sort of laid-back sadness that has been done to death in the past, but its emotions are so genuine, so real and approachable that it overcomes all that. Music listeners looking for something slow and sad to put on and relax (or perhaps slowly waltz) to should give Mr. M a try; they’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Lambchop – Mr. M tracklist:

  1. “If Not I’ll Just Die”
  2. “2B2”
  3. “Gone Tomorrow”
  4. “Mr. Met”
  5. “Gar”
  6. “Nice Without Mercy”
  7. “Buttons”
  8. “The Good Life (Is Wasted)”
  9. “Kind Of”
  10. “Betty’s Overture”
  11. “Never My Love”