by Leci Solis
Only one year after their first full-length release, the thunderous Cincinnati duo return with their sophomore effort All The King's Horses razing antiquated kingdoms and genre conventions to the ground. Under the Sofaburn Records label, this marks the second album recorded with John Hoffman at the retro-gem Ultrasuede Studios. The album cover features the cryptic and cathartic artwork of the illustrious artist, musician, and long-time contributor, Rachelle Caplan. The artwork conjures the mood and illustrates the menacing, vigorous, and dangerously evocative ever-present musical staples in Lung: Kate Wakefield's dulcet yet eerie siren calls, the bombarding drums of Daisy Caplan, and that devious janus-faced instrument violently shifting between chamber melody finesse to destructive grunge rock.
Bestial drumbeats introduce the multicolored mayhem for the cellorific distortion to lay a dense musical web that can only be pierced by Kate's operatic, spine-tingling howls. From the first second of The Overgrowth, it is perceivable how much the band continues to evolve their limitless genre: a mischievious melange of Melora Creager's cello-driven gothic tales, Tori Amos' vocal harmonies-turned-atonal, and the raw prowess of female rockers like early Annie Clark or PJ Harvey.
Kate's quivering phrase-endings showcase her splendid coloratura evoking vicious imagery and dark lyrics are sprinkled with alliteration for Brock - a song that condemns scot-free offender Brock Turner. Numbness and hindsight inspire Butcher, in the aftermath of some gut-wrenching malady, Kate's heavenly humming in minor cleanses the wounds and maniacal shrieks cauterize the soul. Rampant drum-pounding makes the exhilarating track, Spider, throb loudly with the sound stirred up by a hellacious cello bow and topped with feverish wails spiraling out of her trachea. The band's stylistic fluidity travels track by track; in the disturbing yet enchanting Gun, a slow song that cautions against unarmed femininity, poised by delicate string-plucking and gorgeous chords, followed by outbursts of sonic force that reaches rock stadium grandeur with the wittily moderated Bowie classic, I'm Afraid of Americans. Narrating drum rolls and percussive rattles scathe the ends and the macabre coos eclipse the song Horsebath, the lyrics in Bodies of Water, proof of perfectly contrasting imagery, compare a hurting woman to a tender dove capable of storming through, drowning the assailant. The rampage gushes up to the surface with the prowess manifested in ascending cello chords accentuated by downward doom of drum beat patterns.
A swinging change, in something like The Dresden Dolls' Vaudevillian punk, haunted by vocal trills, is sawed out of a cello in Fault. Subhuman Nation, is a dystopic nightmare, very reminiscent of modern age, with propelling and redundant sounds that mimic the mechanics of, well, 8-5 human machines, as Kate's sweet robotic voice commands us to "transport your body parts and plug me into your eyes," creepy pop hooks but charmingly atypical rock only created by Lung. The titular song begins with wounded and brutal basso continuo which later transforms into a twisted nursery rhyme packed with explosives, the sound of Daisy's detonating bass drums & soul-shattering snares, all the fairy tale impostors of our childhood floored by punk rebellion. "All the kings men / they are pissing on playgrounds they got from their fathers," sings Kate as her voice graciously burns the putrified fields of the patriarchy. In Madalena's Mask, the dark chords open like a baroque ballad which gently descends into a melodic psychosis, drowning in devilish howls and demented lyrics, the internal chaos fueled by the drums and those aurally-induced implosions. The madness decelerates until the delirium and sweet vocalizations bleed into the ending song, Placeholder. An unexpected finale, the song proves again Lung's proficiency at what they do best, create colossal and potent music, even when they play expressive cello-rock full of ethereal harmonies.
All The King's Horses is an explosive masterpiece that collects the rage and discomfort found in the post-2016 American sociosphere, and hones these emotions as tools for use in their musical arsenal. It sounds emotionally turbulent, the album is personal at times deceivingly powerless, yet political, once the powerful sounds of weaponized vulnerability are unleashed and blasted on an amp; Lung elevates punk rock music onto atypical heights to craft a timeless exploration of "power and powerlessness."