Casually strutting into focus from beneath a layer of ominous silence, “See Me See Me” welcomes us with open arms into the new album Live from Lockdown by Streaking in Tongues, and though its initial demeanor is icy, it warms at the first appearance of a vocal harmony. From this track on, Streaking in Tongues begin to unfurl an intimate performance for our pleasure that is unlike any other they’re put on master tape to date. “I Was a Fool Before You Were Born” howls behind the harmonica, beckoning us closer with its every jagged note. “Kindergarten Prayer #3” invites a reverberating percussion that resembles a heartbeat into the fold, but as it is with “Everyone Who Ever Cared,” it’s the instrumental framework taking center stage in this disc above all else.
“Field of Pineapples,” one of the most stirring recordings I recall listening to on 2018’s Kindergarten Prayers LP, is reborn as a demon of decadence in Live from Lockdown, and at eight minutes and change, it’s the second longest track on the record. Every second of its running time is utilized for the purposes of increasing the tension in the room only for “Little Big Questions” to break it up in three minutes of pure noise-pop bliss. “Kindergarten Prayer #2” draws us back into ambient folk territory once more with its surreal stylization, but even at this album’s most sonically indulgent, I wouldn’t say there’s a single moment that qualifies as unnecessary. It’s unrehearsed and unpredictable, but Live from Lockdown is also unbeatable if you’re a fan of real, undisputedly alternative music.
“Kindergarten Daze” transposes textures and melodies to fill us up with some psychedelic optimism before letting “Young Again” return the creative drive back towards the folk end of the pop lexicon, but I don’t think it’s until we get into the midrange-deprived “When It Comes to Dreaming” that the complete sonic virtuosity of this ultra-raw recording session begins to take shape. There’s something truly special that cannot be replicated about songs produced with as much grain as this one, “Kindergarten Prayer #1” and the vision that is “Farewell OCD (You Pesky Bastard)” were, and whether it sits well with mainstream critics or not, it’s what makes this such a hard listen to step away from for those of us who can’t get enough of a good experimental offering when we find one.
Live from Lockdown crosses the finish line with a long version of “Boy in a Garbage Bag” that gave me chills all over the first time I listened to it, but in the best way possible. If you thought Streaking in Tongues had outdone themselves with last year’s Oh My Darlin’, you’re about to be truly amazed with what they’ve accomplished in this isolation-inspired live record. Capitalizing on everything they’ve already put in the bank as a duo, this father and son take their ambitions to a new level of artistic provocativeness in Live from Lockdown, and it results in an album that exceeds everything I’d hoped it to be and more.