With Between Darkness and Wonder
, Lamb make their case for inheriting Portishead's long-vacant chill-out throne. The duo creates songs that sound as if they were designed to achieve a maximum calming effect -- frontwoman Louise Rhodes warbles ethereally over top of shimmering beats from Andy Barlow.
Unfortunately, it's hard to shake the feeling that those designs were the result of cold calculation rather than artistic inspiration. Every moment on Between Darkness and Wonder sounds like it was made to be just right, to ensure that Rhodes accents the right beats and that every rhythm is introduced in order of how well it could soundtrack coffee commercials. With an approach that seems so clinical, the album sounds cold and soulless -- and, well, boring. The rare standout moments are the ones where the duo throws caution to the wind and finally comes alive -- the jazzy freakout near the end of "Sugar 5", for example, or the bouncy beat adopted by songs like "Sun" and "Open Up". Other than those odd moments, Between Darkness and Wonder is an exercise in tedium tolerance.