Josh Mease shares more than a first name with understated/underrated expat singer/songwriter Josh Rouse. In his Lapland guise Mease sings, plays guitar, bass, keyboards and drums, and he’s also joined by three other drummers on three tracks. He grew up in Texas, but his sound is more mossy and lush than it is dry and airy, not unlike bits and pieces of Rouse’s work; kind of like Nebraska in her post-folk Sunday best, and fairly well put together.
It’s a bedroom project, but it’s also good quality psych-pop when it wants to be, as demonstrated by “Unwise,” while “Overboard” has a slightly overwrought 70s light-rock feel, but it suits the song and it works in a slack-jawed, un-ironic way. “Aeroplane” is well- crafted dream-pop that sports some “blue-eyed soul.” And “Where Did It Go?” is keen 80s pop, with a new millennial twist.
I actually had Prefab Sprout in mind while listening to this. The NY Times name-dropped Paul McCartney and Brian Wilson as “apparent influences” in a review of one of Lapland’s shows, and I honestly can’t explain what the hell that means. Of course, I can hear the indirect influence of Brian Wilson in 99% of all the pop music in existence. But to saddle anyone with that heavy load is an odd move. Yes, Mease is elusive, and he’s a multi-talented artist who can re-invent himself at the drop of an eighth note, which can feel like every song is a ruse, but there is some musical integrity underneath it all. I can feel it. The songs grow on ya. Sleeper of the month.