Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, Ripely Pine
Like a funhouse mirror, nothing is quite as it seems
The first two minutes of Lady Lamb the Beekeeper’s Ripely Pine seem to reinforce the notion of fragile acquiescence that 23-year-old Aly Spaltro’s stage name suggests. “Take me by the arm to the altar/ Take me by the collar to the cliff/ …Take me by the braid down to my grave,” she croons on “Hair to the Ferris Wheel” over a languidly-thumbed electric guitar, the ghost of an autoharp shuffling around in the background. But on this, Lady Lamb the Beekeeper’s first record cut in a proper studio, nothing is quite as it seems. Just when a lesser song might be content to wrap up its delicate reverie, the wool is ripped away and a Technicolor blast of crunchy guitars and detached-garage drums gush forth, Spaltro’s dusky voice bottoming out over the deluge. This is par for the course on Ripely Pine; these songs tend start in one place, end in another, and cycle through sometimes a dozen imaginings of themselves on the way — like “You Are The Apple” which, over seven minutes, slides from a nervous acoustic twitch to a swampy low-slung romp to a billowing, spiking orchestral swoon. The album’s lyrical turf is both elemental and surreal, like a funhouse mirror turned on a dream of an anatomy lab; hearts are eaten like strawberry cake, blood is canned like jam, love is handled like a newborn’s skull. By the end, it’s clear those opening lines weren’t a coy feint, but a trap; it’s you who is being led, and Lady Lamb the Beekeeper with her claws in your arm. And you will go with her — to the altar, to the grave, wherever — and love every weird minute of it.