On their fourth album in as many years, Lewsberg’s Out and About leans further into the Rotterdam four-piece’s fondness for simplicity with satisfying results.
Never ones to make extravagant statements in their music, Lewsberg have charmed with their output to date by writing songs that revel in their laid-back nature. Where their first two records had a sense of scuzziness about them and were reminiscent of acts such as The Velvet Underground or the mellower moments of Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 in the way they went about creating minimalist art rock, last year’s In Your Hands stripped their compositions back to the bare bones and largely eschewed using any percussion.
This latest effort takes things to new extremes in both directions, making for perhaps the most diverse Lewsberg record to date. Lead single ‘An Ear to the Chest’ bases itself around a shrill and repetitive guitar lick, yet manages to assert itself as their attempt at a pop song of sorts and achieves this with ease. There are many other examples which see the band delve into this territory, such as the jangly ‘Out for Milk’ that wouldn’t feel out of place amongst artists on the C81/86 compilations, as well as ‘Without A Doubt’ which boasts some of the most singalong moments on the record.
On the other hand, there are a number of slower and more wistful moments scattered across the record. Opening track ‘Angle of Reflection’ immediately invites the listener into the warmth the album possesses with an electric organ that evokes a dreamy sound that feels like new territory for the group.
The vocal deliveries of Arie van Vliet and Shalita Dietrich are often droll, and on these slower songs feel much more like a parent softly reading a child to sleep, with the occasional slips into melody mimicking that of a half-sung lullaby. There are a couple of songs towards the end of the record that do disrupt the flow between liveliness and melancholy a little too much, with the closing one-two of ‘There’s a Poet in the Bushes’ and ‘Debbie’ petering into lethargy, but it’s not to say that it isn’t welcome when dotted around at other points of the album.
The approach that Lewsberg seem to take is that of “if it isn’t needed, don’t do it”, and for the most part it’s this that they flourish at most. Lyrically, they continue to revel in the mundane and make the minutiae of everyday life feel poetic; something that has become a potent feature of all of their records, and while there have been minor changes to their output as mentioned, the band are at their best when being unmistakably themselves.