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A Lull's Confetti Obsession

17 April 2011

“Perfectionists? Yeah, I guess you could say that.”

The hearty laugh that punctuates A Lull’s Nigel Evan Dennis’s statement indicates that this adjective may be a bit of an understatement. “We would obsess over everything—lyrics, arrangements, vocals, everything, but we just had to walk away from it and say it was done. We’d put tons of tracks and go back and forth and change things, and it sort of became an unhealthy way to work.”

He’s referring to the recording of his band’s debut album, Confetti, an impressive mixture of studio work, pulsating grooves, and reflective lyrics, which was recently released on Mush Records. Confetti—which can at times remind of the pastoral moments Animal Collective, the quirky folk ofXTC, and even occasionally the upbeat drone of Kraftwerk, without sounding like any of them—is filled with nooks and crannies that may not reveal themselves on the first few listens. What is obvious, though, is that Confetti is a very meticulous album, one that its creators spent a great deal of time getting it to sound just right.

“We recorded it all ourselves but we did it over a year and a half,” says Dennis. ”When we went into the studio we had ten songs that we were ready to work on, but even still it did take us a long time to put it together. We said it was the completed record at. We finally put it together in October and said, ‘okay, we’re going to release this in April,’ we finalized our record deal, but we went in and recorded about five new songs. We put five on the record and took two off. Actually, we took three off, so it’s eleven. But making Confetti definitely took a bit more time than we expected. The final version is actually the fourth version of that record. We wanted it to be right but we did kind of obsess over it, changing it constantly, trying to get it right, just perfect, as we wanted our debut to be a strong statement.”

Lest one think that A Lull is a studio experiment, the band recently completed a US tour with Cold War Kids, a tour which Dennis describes as “fantastic,” as it found the band, “playing for people who didn’t know us, but we were impressed that we would have a good audience when we went onstage. We were afraid that we were going to be the lame opening band for the cooler headliner, but it wasn’t like that. We had a great response, and it was very encouraging, the positive responses we received.”

But the question remains: considering the delicate and complex nature of Confetti, wouldn’t it be difficult to translate it live? “It’s been more about method. We have a lot of sounds that we know we can’t replicate live. There are other things that don’t have a tons of things on them that don’t cause us that much problem when we play live, things we know we can do night after night and still get the same result. We have no problem with the live show being different than the recording. In fact, we all think that’s kind of cool, in the sense that there’s a layer on the record that’s unique, but when you go to the show what you see is unique in its own way, too. The record’s its own thing as well, which is nice.”

Still, considering how much work went into the record, watching the songs change into something different is, in itself, its own reward. As he reflects, Dennis contently remarks, “There are some songs where we tracked 50 tracks of percussion and layered them, but to see it come through live with only our drummer on it and realizing it still has that same power, it’s very satisfying.”