Lunch and dessert
Madeline Kenney is a real West Coast original. Born in Seattle, the singer is now based in Oakland, and that’s where she recorded her newest album, Sucker’s Lunch. The producers of the album are none other than indie-rock band Wye Oak. They collaborated with Kenney before and also produced her previous album Perfect Shapes. Kenney previously released two songs off her new album, “Double Hearted” and “Sucker.” The video to “Double Hearted” is constructed like one of those recipe videos. Someone is making a colorful, sweet dessert while the lyrics of the song come and go. During the instrumental parts, a text is explaining the song in a sort of sassy way. The video is a sweet addition to the album.
The album starts with “Sugar Sweat;” Kenney’s vocals are soft and most delicate while the instruments and melody glimmer in the background. “Picture of You” has a certain melancholy to it that would make it perfect to listen to while lying in bed and thinking about better days. The next song, “Jenny,” starts more pop-like. The lyrics about insecurity and Kenney’s signature vocals mix well with the slightly relaxed sound. With this song, the listener can feel that this album was recorded in Oakland and San Francisco because it has a certain kind of creativity that is typical for the West Coast.
“Tell You Everything” features the saxophone and background vocals of Andy Stack (Wye Oak), as well as vocals from Stephen Steinbrink. The song is rather slow and deep, but can, unfortunately, quickly become background noise. “Sucker” features the iconic voice of Lambchop’s Kurt Wagner. Both voices, Kenney’s super-feminine and Kurt’s super manly voice, are working together in perfect harmony, making the song a standout on the album. Like “Sucker,” “Double Hearted” was released early by Kenney, which is a smart move because both songs are the highlights of Sucker’s Lunch. The song contains great lyrics and a unique sound.
“Cut the Real” starts slow and quiet; Kenney’s vocals are the dominating part, but the instrumental part gives the song feeling—sad and seemingly longing for something with a touch of helpless. “Be That Man” feels like a western in the beginning, and Kenney’s vocal mixed with lyrics give a certain kind of numbness to the song, but not in a wrong way, just a feeling that most people experienced themselves. Yet, Kenney has a surprise up her sleeves. The song continues being more positive-sounding, hopeful and then drifting back into a darker place.
The lyrics stay dark with “White Window Light,” and Kenney uses elements of spoken word, highlighting the critical verses in the song. The song has many highlights, different instruments and a whole vocal ensemble—another standout song. The album ends on a sweet note with “Sweet Coffee.” Well, the song is not a sweet pop song, it’s Kenney’s voice supported by only a few instruments, a rather dark and sad song. Perfect for a lonely night at home.
Sucker’s Lunch has a couple of highlights, and it’s masterfully produced. Kenney’s voice always has a kind of melancholy that is highlighted throughout the album. It might be less rock-influenced than Night Night at The First Landing, but people who enjoyed Perfect Shape will certainly love Sucker’s Lunch.