Lanterns on the Lake's first album, released earlier this year, was called Gracious Tide, Take Me Home.
Their songs have titles like 'Ships in the Rain' and 'Blanket of Leaves' and 'Not Going Back to the Harbour'. Their frontwoman is named Hazel Wilde – really. Happily, all of these names are entirely apt. They are simultaneously wild, whimsical and slightly wet.
From the opening track, 'Lungs Quicken', their music ebbs and flows; in its folky moments it is as calm and gentle as a still lake; at it's layered, most intensely post-rock destinations, it's as wild as a broiling ocean. The only problem is that the journey between these two points – lovely though it often is – is also repeated to somewhat soporific effect.
A six-piece from Newcastle, Lanterns on the Lake are four earnest looking guys in Christmas jumpers, plaid shirts, hipster 'taches and thick framed glasses (so they mirror the east London audience almost perfectly), plus a violinist, and the guitar-playing lead singer Wilde, a delicate blonde with delicate vocals.
The whispery album lyrics – it was home recorded lo-fi on an eight-track, of course – sound a little more sure here, though still soft as moss, and are accompanied by similarly dense plush layers of multiple guitars and waves of electronic ambiance. These repeatedly swell into expansive, generous soundscapes – just think of Lanterns as Northern England's low-budget answer to Sigur Ros. If they aren't soundtracking deep and meaningful student stoner sessions up and down the land, then there really is something wrong with higher education these days.
Words are often sung with shut eyes, and there's a degree of shoegazing, in both literal and musical senses. They don't much go in for audience interaction, and it's a mellow gig - although when an unexpectedly over-excited fans shrieks “what a band, what a fucking band”, Wilde calmly deadpans “what an audience member...” without missing a beat.
'Kingdom' wins the prize for most charming lyric of the night: “My kingdom for one last dance to my favourite song”, and stands out thanks to it's livelier melody on ringing guitar and a more chirpy beat – which, before you know it, has upped into a crashing crescendo in which drumsticks get broken. This is a high point, however; while it's easy to get swept along, it's also often all too easy to just drift off.