Essential New Music: Lambchop’s “FLOTUS”

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This is not the Lambchop you expect. It’s not a set of large-band country/soul done with wit and irony. It lopes and drifts and pulses like other Lambchop records, and Kurt Wagner’s restrained, conversational voice is here. But Wagner has been listening to Kendrick and Kanye and Frank Ocean, and FLOTUS (which stands for “For Love Often Turns Us Still”) has a slinky, meandering, heavily Auto-Tuned, modern R&B sound. Last year, Wagner and fellow Lambchops Ryan Norris and Scott Martin teamed as HeCTA to release an album of electropop. The tempos were faster and the beats harder on that band’s The Diet, which sounded like a diversion but turned out to foreshadow FLOTUS. The addition of longtime pianist Tony Crow and bassist Matt Swanson (along with woodwinds and horns from Matt Glassmeyer) make this an official Lambchop project. Bookended by the nearly 12-minute “In Care Of 8675309” and the 18-plus minute “The Hustle,” FLOTUS is unexpected, occasionally inscrutable and fascinating.

—Steve Klinge

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