Lavender Diamond - Incorruptible Heart

‘Incorruptible Heart’ is a frustrating listen.

Label: Paracadute

Rating: 5

The experience of listening to the second album from this LA folk pop group, led by Becky Stark, is akin to enjoying a particularly appetising dessert. It looks pretty and at first is sumptuous but gradually turns overpoweringly sickly.

‘Incorruptible Heart’ is Lavender Diamond’s first album since 2007’s debut LP ‘Imagine Our Love.’ In the intervening years Stark has been incredibly busy writing music for soundtracks, comic books and, most notably, appearing both on record and on stage with The Decemberists. All these extra cultural excursions seem to have imbued the album with a real theatrical spirit. ‘Incorruptible Heart’ sounds much like the accompaniment to a theatre production with operatic flourishes and baroque arrangements abounding. Unfortunately, this also results in an album that all too often lapses into overwrought arrangements and florid tangents. The airy waffling of ‘Teach Me How To Waken’ is a lamentable case in point.

By far the best moments here are where the group keep it simple. When they do, they succeed with a clutch of super electro tinged pop songs. Stark’s winsome voice is exceedingly lovely. The melancholy sweep of ‘Light My Way’ is a touching moment reminiscent of Goldfrapp at their lightest. More moments like these would have been very much welcome.

The closing three tracks perhaps best exemplify the records shortcomings. ‘Perfect Love’ featuring guitar work by former Stark collaborator M.Ward is a saccharine folk ditty that is nothing short of irritatingly joyful. The final track ‘All The Stars’ ends the album on a disappointing note. Becky Stark’s voice is excellent; however, it is far nicer to hear her sing melodic pop rather than ear piercing operatic dirges.

‘Incorruptible Heart’ is a frustrating listen. You are left with the sense that there is a brilliant pop group waiting to burst out but for the most part, they are sadly suffocated by the arrangements.