Madeline Kenney - Sucker's Lunch
Jul 31, 2020
Sucker's Lunch is Madeline Kenney's 3rd project, a dreamy piece of Indie-Rock and Pop that will likely go under the radar of many people

I haven't much experience with Kenney's work as this is my introduction to her, but having 2 members of Wye Oak helping out with several of the instruments, including the bass and drums, and helping with production certainly sets up a little expectation. There are also several guest musicians/vocalists, most notably Steven Steinbrick who provides vocals and guitar work to Tell You Everything and Kurt Wagner (of Lambchop fame) who adds his voice to the semi title track, Sucker.

Sucker's Lunch is a short and sweet, 37 minute long, collection of lovely, hazey pieces of Indie Rock/Pop. Filled with great melodies that are enticing and smooth, the project is mostly guitar led instrumentally with a lot of the harmonies and counter-melodies performed on guitar, but the use of saxophone, piano and synthesizer help to add a range of textures and tones to the record.

Sugar Sweat is a great opener, just 2 minutes long it perfectly sets the scene with Kenney's gentle and airy vocals gliding over the top of a mixture of moody Rock and weird percussion ans synths, with some brass saxophone in the mix.
Picture of You is a little more straightforward, still fairly dark instrumentally, it slowly builds with vocals and guitar coming in after the intro. As the song continues, it expands a little more with each chorus, adding synthesizer, piano and backing vocals.
Jenny is a lighter song, leaning more towards the Indie-Pop for the verses with some Dream-Pop bridges. The second half of the song transforms into something much weirder with a bigger reliance on warbling synthesizers that help create an unusual atmosphere.
Tell You Everything, returns to a hazey, moody vibe. Steinbrick's guitar work is great a punctuate's the off-putting ambience of the song with brief moments of technicality and peculiar harmonies.
Sucker acts as a duet between Kenney and Wagner, with his lower, gravely voice adding a fantastic counter-point to Kenney's much softer and lighter vocals. As a whole the song is relatively gentle even touching on some Alt-Country, which is a great way of letting the vocals take the lead for the track.

Double Hearted is another more upbeat track, with strong galloping drums a pulsing bass and lots of fun and interesting guitar and synthesizer use, that end of sounding like light dancing inside a crystal.
CUT THE REAL is probably the lightest and airiest song on the album, which ends up to its detriment a little, as the usually lovely atmosphere ends up feeling a little thin by comparison.
Be That Man starts out with Kenney doing her best PJ Harvey impression, both vocally and musically. A very Gothic atmosphere that only relents for brief moments in the chorus.
White Window Light's folksy guitar and use of piano and vocal harmonies is fantastic, the use of some light brass to build upon the general ambience is great and adds some real warmth to the song as it builds towards its climax.
Closing track, Sweet Coffee is probably the most peculiar song here, a lot of the instrumentation happens all at once in short bursts with periods of silence or bare-bones percussion in between. As the song heads to a close, these sharp shifts are softened with more instruments being played in the spare moments. Kind of like some bitter coffee being mixed with cream and sugar.

Sucker's Lunch is great project for fans of modern Indie-Rock and Dream Pop, it doesn't re-invent the wheel in any particularly dramatic manner, but instead relies on the stellar song-writing of Kenney and on the wonderful performances of everyone involved, both for the brilliant melodies and for the fantastic atmospheres. For these 37 minutes that's easily enough to get lost in.

Favourites: Sugar Sweat, Jenny, Sucker, Be That Man, White Window Light
Least Favs: CUT THE REAL
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