ALBUM: Liz Lawrence – ‘The Avalanche’

Liz Lawrence released her third studio album in September this year. She wrote, performed and produced the entire album herself in a studio she built from scratch with her dad on the site where her grandfather’s garden shed had stood unopened for twenty years. Lawrence christened the studio ‘The Coffin’ and, whilst the album certainly has an underlying preoccupation with death, the sounds Lawrence has created within The Coffin’s walls are the furthest thing from a funeral dirge. The Avalanche is full of nonchalant, alt-pop bangers, pleasingly building on all of the promise Lawrence demonstrated on her earlier releases, Pity Party and Bedroom Hero.

Lawrence’s delivery is laconic and understated bringing a wry sensibility to each track. Vocally, she treads a path somewhere between Sharon Van Etten and Lana Del Ray, but weaves her lyrics over danceable distorted bass and guitar lines reminiscent of The Dandy Warhols. Album opener ‘Down for Fun’ sets the tone for the album perfectly with Lawrence detailing the death of a rabbit owned by a guy who wears a jester’s hat then inviting everybody back to mine” and declaring she’s “down for fun, down for anything”. The album is a party, but with ever foreboding memento mori themes running softly in the background.

‘Violent Speed’ and ‘Where the Bodies Are Buried’ further exemplify this. ‘Violent Speed’ gives a blunt and grittily visceral description of a decapitation and ‘Where the Bodies Are Buried’ includes these brilliantly dark lyrics describing a relationship in its final throes:

“I left the heating on
And now I’m gonna knit you a sweater
A gorgeous afternoon
And I’ve been digging holes in the garden
All for one and one for you
But I know where the bodies are buried…”

As dark as Lawrence’s lyrics may be, The Avalanche is a helluva lot of fun. The album was in part inspired by Tacita Dean’s huge, seven-metre drawing, The Montafon Letter, which refers to a disaster in the Montafon Valley in Austria where an avalanche buried three hundred people. Lawrence explains, “…a priest went to the site to officiate the burial, and another avalanche buried him, and then finally another avalanche came and unburied the priest”. On The Avalanche, Lawrence skilfully plays with the idea that what destroys you might just save you too. 

The Avalanche is out now on Kartel.

Kate O’Sullivan

Photo Credit: Asia Werbel

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