It’s been four years since Lilith Lane’s last album, Gold Diamond, and in those years things appear to have harshened for the Australian songstress. At least, that’s the impression her newest release Pilgrim gives. In between these two albums Lilith and her Many Wives (her backing band for those not in the know) have travelled all across Europe and back again, growing as they went, cumulating with the creation of Pilgrim.

From opener ‘Sun Set Fire’, it’s clear that Pilgrim is a much different monster than anything else of Lane’s doing. The dusty atmosphere is set up almost immediately with Lane’s sharp crooning and even sharper guitar, a feeling that barely budges throughout. Single ‘I Could Get Used to This’ is about as charged as Pilgrim gets; Lane and her guitar taking turns smouldering over the desert tones and riding snares. While it bubbles over from track to track, the intensity never quite hits that level again.

This plateau normally leads to the death of a record, but with Pilgrim it instead lends itself to the sincerity of the album. While Lane’s singing is on most accounts like the standard soulful warbling, hidden inside are truly brooding lyrics that would put even the most stereotypical metal band to shame. From ‘Sun Set Fire’s opening claim that ‘the stars mapped out her every thought as she spoke to the ancients’, to ‘Slow Creeper’s “if I met Jesus he would push me aside”, Lane’s comments throughout Pilgrim open up to her strange head in a way that Gold Diamond barely did justice.

While there is a lot to love within Pilgrim, it is not without failure. The songs on occasion become meandering before straightening themselves out. At times it’s difficult to tell the songs apart, with tracks like ‘Champagne’ dropping the atmospheric feeling the rest of the album holds; coming off more like a series of cut-outs from Gold Diamond. It’s not enough to make the album unenjoyable, but it does blemish what is on all other accounts a polished piece.

‘Slow Creeper’; with its, well, creeping bass, fits as both a perfect closer and summary to Pilgrim. With lyrics a mix of both the painfully personal and dusty metaphor, the two major lyrical themes are conjoined into one haunting finale. Meanwhile, the grainy atmosphere and lonesome guitar make their farewell intertwined. While there are some moments where the focus on atmosphere drains on just how listenable the album is, overall Pilgrim is a moody album with a lot to offer the listener — just as long as you push through the hard parts.

6/10

 

Pilgrim was released on September 30th via Beast Records.