Glasgow-based artist Lloyd Ledingham of the Kundalini Genie and Supercloud goes solo with a dreamy debut of lilting lo-fi ballads recorded in isolation.
Writing in the deepest throes of 2020, Lias Saoudi of the Fat White Family suggested that “it would be an understatement to say that a lot of people in music are bricking it”. Whilst musicians around the world languished in the existential void left by cancelled tours, financial precarity, and across-the-board venue closures – many artists sought sanctuary in the writing process, directing their energies into their craft.
As a result of being cut off from studios for large parts of the year, 2020 saw a huge revival in home recordings. With the likes of Arlo Parks and Adrianne Lenker recording some of the past year’s best-loved records from the comfort of an East London AirBnB and a log cabin in the mountains of Massachusetts respectively, it’s fair to say that musicians across the world successfully summoned a DIY spirit in response to social isolation.
University of Glasgow student Lloyd Ledingham, the creative force behind Lloyd’s House, was no different. “I definitely threw myself into music in 2020,” he tells me. It was indeed a productive year for Lloyd, one that saw him join psychedelic collective The Kundalini Genie, and record an excellent EP with his Velvet Underground-inspired garage rock outfit Supercloud, as well as his debut solo EP We Could Be Friends.
Whilst this home-based process may have required a degree of adaptation for many musicians, this is familiar territory for Ledingham, who is no stranger to writing in, and about, isolation. “This house is a fortress,” he croons on 2020’s This House, embracing the loneliness of restless nights as an inspiration for his craft. “Loneliness plays a huge part in my music,” he tells us in fond reflection. “I feel like we tend to view loneliness as an illness or something to be fixed, but it doesn’t always have to be that way.”
We Could Be Friends is very much written in this vein, continuing where Lloyd’s first single left off. The result is a brief, but impactful collection of ambient tracks that are tailor-made for a solitary walk through a cold Glasgow night. Using little more than an old 8-track recorder and his bass guitar, Ledingham crafts delicate nocturnal ballads that channel the low-end mumbles and rumbles of classic slowcore groups like Duster and Bedhead whilst counterposing those melancholy drones with sinuous, trebly bass lines reminiscent of Joy Division’s Peter Hook. A firm disbeliever in guilty pleasures, Lloyd also wears his appreciation for the bass work of blink-182’s Mark Hoppus on his sleeve, whose melodic intuition and penchant for morose songcraft WCBF lovingly emulates.
We begin with the record’s title track, which gently stomps along like the Guided By Voices rhythm section. Thick bass chords are peppered with yearning refrains, swirling falsettos and gentle harmonies, whilst the song’s lyrics speak to ambiguous relationships and withholding secret love.
Next comes the highlight of the record, That’s When I Sold Myself, a tune which best showcases Lloyd’s natural ability to craft melodies. Whilst the deliberately muffled and subdued nature of this EP means that you can’t really consider the choruses of any of these songs “huge”, the triumphant melody of this track’s refrain is subtly anthemic.
Instrumental interlude Shabbat anchors the EP’s midpoint. Multiple bass tracks overlay one another with interweaving melodies reminiscent of Midwest emos American Football, but here they float around untethered by vocals or drums, giving the track a peaceful wistfulness.
Tell Me It’s Over follows, and with it come Ledingham’s best lyrical moments on the record. The track begins as a lilting vocal line mirrors the bass: “Things getting colder, every time we meet / Can’t do it sober, I’m always too afraid”. The lyrics are laden with a subtext of insecurity, reinforced by the sense of resignation present in the simple, but powerful chorus couplet: “Pull me closer / Tell me it’s over”.
Closer I’m Too Cold is perhaps the record’s most dynamic track and is a personal favourite of Ledingham’s. Recorded without a click track the tune changes tempo throughout its runtime, morphing from a mournful lament into a jittery head-bopper, satisfyingly jumping into gear like an old car. “The drums are super expressive,” Lloyd says, with a hint of surprise and pride about how his amateur drumming – recorded in a local rehearsal room – turned out.
“Sometimes there’d be a bagpipe player next door which would seep into the recording, but I didn’t really have much of a choice so I kind of went with it.” That very Scottish piece of additional ambience suits the record’s DIY aesthetic down to the ground, and it also bespeaks the strong inspiration Lloyd’s House takes from the city of Glasgow. “The people I’ve met, the experiences I’ve had, the drugs I’ve taken from strangers on nights out, they all play a part in my songwriting,” he reflects. With an album in the works and a live band practicing alongside Ledingham for the eventual live debut of the project, hopefully it isn’t too long before Lloyd’s House can open its doors to Glasgow for the first time.
Top Track: That’s When I Sold Myself
Overall Rating: 8/10