Lehmann B. Smith : Girlfriends
Has Lehmann B. Smith ever had a girlfriend? Or does he have multiple girlfriends? Is he capturing the angst of loving everyone, not being in love, not being loved or being happy in love? You will find none of the answers to these questions on Girlfriends, but you’ll have a blast getting caught up in all the confusion and anxiety.
Lehmann’s third album is a distinctive departure from his two recent albums on the Special Award label. The songs are longer but there’s less of them and they’re tighter and, well, better. Most notably, he has left his insular world to be joined by a choir, though it’s a complicated relationship. When following the more traditional modes of call and response or singing in unison, the saintly harem swoop in to support Lehmann for his more chipper singalongs, I Believe and Follow Me. But they’re also on tap to echo self-doubting lyrics like ‘It’s a wonder we can even fuck‘ from Killer Stone, Take Luck and get pulled along with the simmering self-hatred that runs through My Body, No Good. In Malice For The Bullshit, the backing singers form a berating chorus of disapproval against Lehmann’s bitter drunk. When there’s finally time for a sweet duet, Liz Mitchell promises "I’ll be good" but the best Lehmann can offer is "I’ll be good this time... or next time", followed quickly by "I won’t be good, I won’t be good next time."
This friction between disconnect and union is what makes Lehmann’s work so appealing. Girlfriends successfully builds a few more layers on his self-made sound without losing any of his bittersweet appeal.
BY CHRIS GIRDLER
Best Track: Malice For The Bullshit
If You Like These, You’ll Like This: Avi Buffalo AVI BUFFALO, KES Band KES BAND
In A Word: Boyfriendable