Tonight, Olympia almost a cappella dream pop ensemble Lake play an all-ages show at 2020 Cycle with Desolation Wilderness and Hoquiam. I review their new K Records album, Oh, The Places We'll Go in this week's album reviews:
One of the distinguishing oddities of Olympia is Capitol Lake, a man-made reflecting puddle scenically situated between downtown and the Capitol Building up on the hill. It was immortalized in Beat Happening's "Our Secret," although you probably wouldn't want to go swimming in it, not even with Calvin Johnson. Young K Records ensemble Lake may not take their name from this particular body of water, but they certainly share some of its perfectly composed calm and antique charm.
Lake are a soft-rocking glee club whose cool, almost a cappella dream pop and lyrical doo-wop wouldn't sound entirely out of place in 1951, the year Capitol Lake was dredged out of some mudflats. They're also archetypically Olympian, a loose collective whose fluctuating membership draws from a pool of singers, songwriters, and musicians that includes members of Kickball and Swimming, and the prolific Karl Blau, who recorded Oh, the Places We'll Go at Anacortes's Department of Safety. (Speaking of prolific, Lake have supposedly recorded a dozen albums' worth of material, although this is only their third full-length.)
The album is book-ended by the title track and its sequel (as well as a brief instrumental coda), two placidly optimistic Seussian anthems whose coed vocal harmonies; swinging drumming; deep, bobbing bass; and accents of piano, guitar, horns, and hand percussion all pleasantly recall Vancouver, BC, contemporaries No Kids (both are fans of Fleetwood Mac). That resemblance is even clearer on the gorgeous "Blue Ocean Blue," with its airy female vocal lead and its spare rim shots, cowbells, and hand claps. Lake chart a fairly steady course across the album, trading off vocal duties, slowing down a bit for the dark, jazzy "Minor Trip" and the echoing, synth-inflected "On the Swing," picking up the tempo for the melancholy dance number "Counting." This Lake is as welcoming to dip into as it is postcard picturesque.
A correction: Lake's debut album, not Oh, The Places We'll Go, was recorded at the Department of Safety.