Mainstream gets interesting with Lenka’s new pop album

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    Debut pop artist Lenka’s self-titled album doesn’t disappoint. The artist kicks off her upbeat and beautiful first album with “The Show,” a song featured on the ABC comedy “Ugly Betty.”
    “I’m just a little bit caught in the middle/ Life is a maze, and love is a riddle,” she sings, at first small and lilting, but then strong and defined as an ensemble of piano, high hat, xylophone, maracas and more carry her voice up into the ether. The album concerns itself with the enjoyment of life, and its upbeat, singable songs support this sentiment.
    “I’ve got to let it go and just enjoy the show,” Lenka sings as if in conclusion.
    Lenka uses the pop-song style — the present-day equivalent of the sonnet — to the fullest, singing several touching love songs. In “Don’t Let Me Fall,” she addresses her love, singing, “You’re just the one that I’ve been waiting for/ I’ll give you all that I have to give and more,” in a voice that is sweet and sincere. Songs like this one, not far into the album, remind me why pop music became so beloved in the first place and shows that this is not the only album we’re going to see from Lenka.
    Certainly an eclectic musician, “Dangerous and Sweet” includes a baseline of hand claps that you can’t help but tap along with. The sentiment is a little more complex, though.
    She sings, “Taking everything for more than it means/ It’s dangerous, and it’s sweet/ Cut us and we bleed …” belaboring the ease with which her love can hurt her. The songs are as meaningful as they are fun, which is a rare combination — and one that isn’t easily passed up.
    The next big hit on the album is without doubt “Trouble a Friend,” featured on last week’s episode of “Grey’s Anatomy.” This song personifies trouble: “He’s there in the dark/ He’s there in my heart/ He waits in the wings/ He’s gotta play a part … I won’t let him in, but I’m a sucker for his charm.”
    This could easily be an homage to Le Tigre, American dance-punk band, with its fun, electronic beats and lyrics that seem to pop right to the surface and make you dance. 
    Lenka seems to understand, though, that not everything can be one note, and some of her most somber songs fall into the last part of the album. “Like a Song,” lingers on a lost love, using a metaphor of music: “I can’t forget about you when you’re gone/ You’re like a song that goes round in my head.”
    However, she makes sure to end on a high note with “We Will Not Grow Old,” which includes crisp piano and a message of eternal love.
    The fact that artists like Lenka are being showcased on network television should fill some with hope. It has been a long time coming, but it looks like mainstream is about to get a lot more colorful as a new flock of musicians moves in. If this trend continues, it might be safe to listen to the radio sooner rather than later.

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