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The Album Leaf | In a Safe Place | review | alternative | Lollipop

The Album Leaf

In a Safe Place (Sub Pop)
by Tim Den

Despite his contributions to Tristeza and the love that Sigur Ros have heaped on him over the years, I never liked Jimmy Lavalle's The Album Leaf. As a solo project, there was always an overwhelming sense of unchecked creativity permeating the songs: Bad ideas intertwined with good ones without band members there to help him sort 'em out. Well, In a Safe Place finally breaks that tradition, as hired hands from Sigur Ros, Múm, and The Black Heart Procession help Lavelle create not only his best work to date, but one of this year's most devastatingly affective records.

Even upon the first spin, opening tracks "Window" and "Thule" hurt me like I had forgotten how to. Like a deer-in-the-headlights or the first time I heard "Jóga" by Björk, the hypnotic sway of beats and the blinding rawness of the emotions (sans vocals, no less) told me of long forgotten sorrows I'd rather not remember. A souring of the chest signaled old scars reopening, and I closed my eyes involuntarily and saw hometowns, old friends, and failed loves. WHOA, what the fuck just happened? How did a "band" I never cared for all of a sudden get me to be THIS dramatic?

Perhaps it's cuz, with the help of his Icelandic wunderkinds, The Album Leaf has finally become what it set out to be: An Arctic-based melting heart with a setting to boot. Even Lavelle admitted that recording the album in Iceland factored gigantically in its sound. No longer trying to freeze somber lullabies under his native San Diego sun, The Album Leaf has finally immersed itself in appropriate creative surroundings on In a Safe Place, and the result is nothing short of brilliant.
As I ride the subway and lazily scan the city's skittering skyline, In a Safe Place turns my commute into a drifting movie scene in which frigidity and burning desire are characters who couldn't be more opposite and yet more perfect together.


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