ANY ONE OF US, at any given time, is bound to start a storm. People are walking weather fronts; a slew of high and low pressure systems prone to head-on collision, rapt by the invisible winds of a snaking jet stream. Though, you may not be altogether privy to this fact until you've heard Loch Lomond's declaration of it in "Blue Lead Fences," the first track on the band's latest full-length, Little Me Will Start a Storm. Everything about the song's arrangement and production seems to pass in narrow bands of heavy precipitation, but when cymbals crash and a multi-part harmony rises to meet those six words emblazoned on the album's front cover—"little me will start a storm"—it's suddenly time to duck into the bulkhead.
"Little Me Will Start a Storm is loosely based on that epiphany that comes during the transition from adolescence to adulthood—a certain magic ends and a new one starts," says frontman Ritchie Young. "This record draws parallels between my transition out of adolescence and Loch Lomond's growing up."
And grown they have. While the band has remained a favorite regional act and 2007's Paper the Walls holds fast in the Northwestern canon of chamber pop, there is a distinct confidence in this new album—released on local imprint Tender Loving Empire—and its roster of players. "Loch Lomond's membership was often in a state of flux," says Dave Depper, bassist, multi-instrumentalist, and producer of Little Me. "Then, the lineup solidified into the seven-piece that created Little Me and put together a live show that I felt was powerful and deserved to be captured on record."
Navigationally speaking, Little Me reads more like a topographical map of California than the flimsy manifolds of highway tributaries you might find on a gas station rack. "I absolutely adore Paper the Walls, but I feel this new record is much more diverse," says Depper. "Each song occupies its own sonic world, but hopefully fits together for the listener."
For instance, in the song "Blood Bank," you can almost touch the panoply of textures and terrain. Each vocal swells and each instrument pops at stunning intervals, from the very beginning where mandolin, violin, and cello slowly join together and build, to the summit of the chorus and flourishing woodwinds, and all the way back down to the deafeningly abrupt ending—a low elevation from which to fully grasp the drama of the landscape.
Meanwhile, "Earth Has Moved Again" smoothes out over a barren, apocalyptic snapshot of a city, with a bit less freneticism in arrangement. "I had a very intense, vivid dream that there was a massive earthquake in Portland. Broken pipes looked like fountains. Fires looked like mountains. The city was completely changed; the only thing I could think about was finding my friends," recalls Young. This hazy search through the dream rubble is musically actualized toward the end of the song, with various instrumentals and astral humming all swept up in the whir of a Mellotron.
There is something truly exciting about Little Me Will Start a Storm; even in the more tender moments of repose, the air feels thick with anticipation. And it's an undoubtedly strong piece of work that, once passed through, is bound to blaze new paths for the band to traverse—for isn't that the magic of the storm?