The Routes are back with “Lead Lined Clouds”, their 13th studio album, and their first vocal offering since 2021’s “Mesmerised”.
Picking up where “Mesmelrised” left off (with 4 instrumental albums being released between “Mesmerised” and “Lead Lined Clouds”), “Lead Lined Clouds” consists of ten original songs, tackling subjects such as austerity, old age, corruption, propaganda, social media, and mental health.
Whereas “Mesmerised” saw The Routes very much in reverb-soaked psych territory, “Lead Lined Clouds” is a much more full-on sonic barrage. This album sees The Routes tone down (but not turn down) the guitars to make room for the addition of organ, which is prominent throughout the album. As opposed to just sounding like your typical garage rock or garage punk band, the sound is diverted not only by the dissonant organ, but also the snarly unapologetically “British” vocals (which for this album are mostly spoken or shouted, as opposed to sung).
Listening to “Lead Lined Clouds”, it would be easy to make comparisons to the music of bands like The Seeds, The Standells, and Count V (amongst endless other 60s bands); but listening from afar, the influences are much more eclectic. The tracks “Lead Lined Clouds”, “Inside Out” and “Shrunken Heads” sound like they could have been penned for an early Stranglers, The Fall or Modern Lovers. “Seen Better Days” sounds like Syd Barrett singing with “Alien Lanes” era Guided By Voices. “No Good” nods to UK indie such as My Bloody Valentine, Spectrum and Jesus and Mary Chain.
Refusing to be just another garage band, and refusing to be predictable; The Routes have purposely changed their style for every album, and still managed to un-mistakenly sound like The Routes. “Lead Lined Clouds” is no exception. This is not another straight 60’s revival album. This is not garage-by-numbers. This is music for now that nods to music of the past.