Lake Michigan is the bedroom pop project of London-based musician Chris Marks. You may remember that Lake Michigan released a great little EP, Pylons, Telephone Wires, Trees In The Clearing, last year, and also released an album at the beginning of this year. Now Marks is back with a brand new album called Gleaming, and it’s being released by our pals at Z Tapes. Gleaming is due for release this week, but if you’re impatient to hear the whole thing right now then worry not! Today we have the pleasure of presenting a stream of the whole album.
Of course, it goes without saying that Gleaming is great. The songs sound submerged in a smoky twilight, a downbeat late-night vibe that’s sometimes unsettling and always intimate and claustrophobic. The slightly stormy guitar of opener ‘Harbor’ is joined by Mark’s mumbly, weary vocals, thick with a sleepy dullness, as if he’s answering a phone call at 5 in the morning. The same can be said of the vocals on ‘This Place Wears Me Out’, which take centre stage in a narcotic daze beside minimal buzzing atmospherics and gentle percussion, setting the tone for what is a strange sleep-slurred record.
The same lethargic despondency continues across the album, such as on the strange baritone folk song ‘Clissold Park 6am’, and ‘Diet Coke’, with its percussion like the onset of some derelict ghost train clattering over tracks long since removed. The vocals on ‘Neon’ play out almost in slow motion, transforming what would be a standard acoustic bedroom pop song into something isolated and tortured and unsettling. “In my head there’s theme park sounds,” he sings, “me (OR meat?) on rides, divorcee’s smiles / still my sleep melts my brain”. ‘Junk Food’ has a similar morose air, the atmosphere one of stale and stifling reclusiveness, while closer ‘Hollow Ponds’ sounds like a sinister take on the sound of acts such as Ricky Eat Acid or Arrange, bummed-out electronic pop music for quiet lonely bedrooms.
Imagine finding yourself in an empty dive bar at night, or a run-down bus station, only to find a voice emanating from a particularly gloomy corner. Its words are peculiar, eccentric perhaps, and lonely to a degree that suggests great familiarity with the emotion. Now imagine this figure is singing to you and you alone. Sleep-deprived and buzzed by boredom, you are unsure if it’s all in your head. You are imagining Lake Michigan’s Gleaming.