Album Review: Duncan Lloyd - Outside Notion

Words by Daniel Rourke

Indie rock is a genre that has been pronounced dead more times than bastard in the north, Jon Snow. Each time, following the tragic news of its death, a slew of Fred Perry shirts fly off the shelves and a bunch of blokes with questionable haircuts tell you to expect the unexpected, as we mill around counting down the minutes until an Oasis reunion.

The latest indie mastermind to come forth and tell us to expect the unexpected is none other than Duncan Lloyd. Primarily known for his work with Geordie legends, Maximo Park, Lloyd is somewhat of a musical journeyman, with a slew of projects to his name including Nano Kino, Decade in Exile and his current project as a solo musician. After two years away from his solo project, Lloyd is back with 'Outside Notion', an album that is set to challenge expectations within the often-predictable genre.

Opening on Historic Elements, you’d initially be forgiven for passing the record off as another failed attempt to breathe some life into the indie rock world. Although transient and dreamlike in sound, there’s very little within the opener to truly turn heads, with everything seeming a little too sluggish to warrant a full appreciation.

However, despite the somewhat dulcet opening, 'Outside Notion' begins to pick up through the middle sections. Whilst the Matt Berninger-esque vocals found on 5 A.M. Eyes are quickly switched back to spaced out stoner vibes in Planetarium, it’s within the latter in which things begin to click and the textural elements of the record start to shine through.

This textural nature of both the string and syncopated rhythm lines is something that was heavily talked about prior to the release of the album, and they prove to be the shining light of the record, allowing the somewhat dour vocals to breathe and ruminate. This culminates in the creation of the grippingly dark tone of the record, executed brilliantly on Young Dreams and album closer First, Monday.

While the road Lloyd wanders down with 'Outside Notion' proves to be winding, there is much to be found on the journey. Guess and Wonder is an enthralling, Elliot Smith-esque track about his father who passed in 2010, whilst ‘Til The Fear Breaks picks up the pace for an enjoyable three-minute romp. Unfortunately, there are a few too many dull moments to make the record truly remarkable, however, towards the close of the record Lloyd can be found laying the foundations to make this niche project into something with great potential.