The album begins with a whispering, mantra-like repetition of the phrase "gotta be above it" on the track "Be Above It", evidence of Parker's detachment and self-seculsion, a recurring lyrical theme throughout the record (see: "Why Won't They Talk To Me?"). But while his songwriting conveys sometimes-cynical, always-genuine reflections of isolation one might expect from an album titled Lonerism, this is juxtaposed by consistently poppy melodies and buoyant guitar riffs. In fact, the infectious, Lennon-esque "Feels Like We're Only Going Backwards" may just be the year's best pop anthem. Not everything on Lonerism is so sugary sweet, though. The stomping rhythm of "Elephant" draws to mind hints of Black Sabbath, and closing track "Sun's Coming Up" ends with a deeply melancholic, meditative outro. The album never stays in one place for too long, constantly traversing different textures and territories.
Given the widespread accessibility of digital enhancement in today's age, it would have been easy for Parker to drench his songs in so many effects that the listener gets lost along the way. But instead, he focuses on quality over quantity, creating a deliberate balance that allows room for his songwriting prowess to shine through. Intricate, smart, and genre-bending, Lonerism is the kind of album that reveals itself in new ways with each listen.
Written by Rachel Dorn, Radio K volunteer.