Largely eschewing the American indie sensibilities that defined their previous two LPs, ‘The Giant’s Lawn’ troves through a wider array of influence, embracing ’60s folk-rock and psychedelia as new scouts badges on the band’s lapel.
The album opens with an ad lib Beatles-esque intro, giving every impression of developing into a folky, acoustic guitar-led number, before stopping abruptly and changing gear into the grungy Queen’s Poisoner. Minor tactics from a masterful tactician, to quote the band. The tracks are to the point – none reaching the four-minute mark – though many (second single Rearing Wesley a good example) have an ever-rambling quality, and could quite comfortably run twice their decided lengths.
‘The Giant’s Lawn’ further cements Wurld Series’ fairytale-telling approach of previous albums, oft-gamboling through a garden planted by Syd Barrett and frequented by the likes of Fairport Convention’s Richard Thompson and Loma’s Emily Cross.
Coupled with Priscilla Rose Howe’s signature cover art, the songwriting and lyricism of front person Luke Towart paint a vivid picture of a time gone by, in another place. There’s a very middle-ages-Britain feel to the carnival scenery dotted throughout the album, with references to queens and lords, and servants sneaking a taste of the exquisitely prepared royal dinner.
The album is heavily-laden with mellotron, further tying it to the British psych-folk movement of the early ‘70s, but conversely wears on its sleeve a realm of lo-fi noise pop that aligns the band, in these moments, with classic Kiwi acts like 3Ds and Tall Dwarfs. That said, pleasing synth lines in World Of Perverts and The Pugilist provide the occasional reminder that this album truly exists in the ‘80s-obsessed musical landscape of the early 2020s.
The band give the impression that a new phase of life is being explored in these songs. Taking literally the lines, “Fatherhood’s a funny thing,” and “Are we happy here in this house of ours?” may be reading into more than what is being presented, however, there’s no denying that ‘The Giant’s Lawn’ is a sharp left turn from the relatively straight road between ‘Air Goofy’ (2017) and 2021’s ‘What’s Growing.’ The latter received a glowing review and matching 7.1/10 rating from music media heavyweights Pitchfork. It would be surprising if ‘The Giant’s Lawn’ doesn’t receive accolades of equal or greater value.