Mercury - 2003 - 64 minutes
In the mid-90s, Lamb blasted onto the scene with 'Fear of Fours', an album of complex, discordant beats that bounced off conflicting vocals saturated in melancholy and rancour. It was an incongruous fusing of Lou Robinson's folk sensibilities and the techno wizardry of Andy Barlow. Although it was a marriage that, on paper, shouldn't have worked, the results were far bigger than the sum of their parts.
Sole survivors of the trip-hop era - all the rest having disbanded (Portishead) or fallen into the depths of mediocrity (Tricky, Massive Attack, Morcheeba) - Lamb have the weight of the world on their shoulders. 'Between Darkness and Wonder' sees the return to a formula that has been perfected over three subsequent albums.
Lou's voice still gently glides, whispers and purrs over words of love, longing and sadness, while the cascading beats crash and thunder, slowly rippling to shores of soulful strings. The best examples of this being 'Till the Clouds Clear' and the impressive Bjorkesque 'Wonder', the first single from the album. With a sample taken from Debussy's 'Clare de Lune', the instrumental of 'Angelica' shows a paired down, harmonious side that the duo have not shared with the listener before.
However, this is the only musical development on display here and Lamb have not moved on since the epic, love-drenched offering of Gorecki, admittedly a hard act to follow. As with previous offerings, this is a well produced and beautifully orchestrated album, but it would have been nice to hear some vocal or musical development. Can Lou Robinson still be so lovelorn? Surely the birth of her child would have eased some of the pain. It is occasionally OK to have a happy tune on an album - one that puts a smile on your face for the day rather than a grimace.
Tracklisting: Darkness - Stronger - Angelica - Till the Clouds - Clear - Wonder - Sun - Learn - Please - Open Up - Hearts and Flowers