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Album Review: Globelamp’s ‘Romantic Cancer’ Struggles to Express Its Message

An emotional album for La Fey…but what’s missing?

Mackenzie Dineen

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The title of this album reveals all you need to know about Globelamp’s latest release: it is a collection of love songs laced with a heartbreak that consumes all of the record’s other elements. California singer-songwriter Elizabeth La Fey, also known as Globelamp, missed the mark on her third full-length album, “Romantic Cancer.” The record is completely stripped, comprised of basic acoustic riffs, sporadic vocals and guitar plucking.

The album kicks off with “Sha La Love,” featuring a simple yet sharp guitar diddy that drowns Elizabeth La Fey’s voice. Globelamp picks things up in “Everything is a Spiral,” a tale of mystic travels that reflects on the universe’s cyclical nature. The song sets the tone for the album, with an aesthetic that pays homage to the 1960’s folk artists who carved out the future of lyrical music.

This album in particular focuses on themes of terrestrial magic. Globelamp often speaks of crystals, beautiful desolate landscapes, and mind-bending witchery. It will be released on October 12, by Nefarious Industries records, just in time for Halloween.

The title track joins the album’s many serenades that leave listeners down in the dumps. It highlights La Fey’s eclectic vocal technique, constantly oscillating between deep mutterings and high-pitched warbling. The final chorus, however, breaks into the record’s only truly emotional and authentic performance. Globelamp strays far from traditional technique; her quavering voice and outlandish phrasing choices deters the average ear and draws in a fan-base of those with a taste for underground and experimental work. Regardless of whether or you like or dislike it, Globelamp’s voice rattles like a ghost through listeners cranium long after hearing it.

“Romantic Cancer” is often garrulous and a bit redundant. The album would express its message more efficiently if it were synthesized into a recording half of its current length. The record strives for lyrical and narrative style but lacks the required maturity. “Unnatural speeds” is exemplary, written in an almost oppressive first person, with little room for profound discussion or commentary. It’s hard to keep hitting play when every song transports listeners to their middle-school breakups.

This is not to say “Romantic Cancer” is without merit. Despite its superfluity, her description often captures emotions from a fresh and raw perspective. “Lowest Lows” opens with “Why do you wanna be with me/I make people cry.” The introspective self-loathing of the song is introduced with a blunt honesty–something that most popular music lacks, something fans crave. Similarly, “Charmed so easily/Love will be the death of me,” feels authentic, as if it is straight from the diary or painted on the bedroom walls of a young, wistful, teenage girl.

“Sorceress of Your Soul,” is the glamorous telling of a magical girl challenging the outside world’s “boring reality;” the strength and conviction of Globelamp’s voice combined with accordion flourishes are simply captivating. “Saint Cecilia” is an ambient lullaby that could soothe even the coldest of hearts.

Ultimately, Romantic Cancer is too musically simplistic for its breaches in lyrical quality. With a more audibly expressive aesthetic, the stories and emotions that Globelamp struggles to convey could come to life.

If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.

Mackenzie Dineen is a Boston-based student writer in her senior year, working towards a degree in Entertainment Media at Lasell College. She is a firm believer that live music is life's greatest pleasure, and prefers anything heavy. She is a proud cat mother of a 2 year old black Mainecoone with thumbs, named Scarlett. If she had it her way, every day would be Halloween.

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