Listening to Little Lapin, the debut EP by UK-born, Auckland-based Lucy Cioffi, is like finding that perfect shell on a beach on a foggy day, cold, white and unmarred by the elements. It's a work of beauty that stands out against the gloom and gives you something to smile about. You would never guess, while listening to these six thoughtful tracks about how to grow up while trying to stay young, that Lapin (French for "rabbit", and I'm going to use this name to refer to Cioffi) was once unable to throw a note out in public. After finding her calling in Raglan, New Zealand, Lapin formed the indie pop band Hand Me Downs and went solo in 2012. You've got to have some confidence when you break apart from your band, and Lapin demonstrates she can hold her own.
The voice. Always the voice you need to talk about first for a solo artist. Lapin's voice is not unique but it is powerful, at times sounding like Emma Pollock of The Delgados and other times like Florence Welch of Florence + The Machine. The songs are carefully arranged and do not follow any particular theme or singular musical style. The dreamy guitar haze of "Waiting Room" swirls around Lapin's voice while "Friendship on Fire" lands center of twee-pop (I think there's even a tambourine).
Lapin is an able lyricist. She says what she needs to say and little else, because what else is there to say? "You take me to many foreign places/I don’t need currency there/when you pull out your funny faces /it’s the best thing you’ve ever shared," she sings on "Foreign Places." There is a fair amount of sugar in that quatrain, and at the same time it's a compliment to her companion. Home is where the heart is, and the heart is always with someone. She sometimes overdoes it; she whispers on "Silent Tears.” "if I thought that you would understand/I wouldn't be here lying soaking wet/in my silent tears." Come on now, that's a bit much. The music on that track is awesome, though, with an anxious rhythm section and a ghostly string piece. The musical variety is what really sets Lapin apart from her peers. There's a willingness to apply herself to different genres here, and she rarely sounds uncomfortable during any of her performance. Like I said, the girl’s confident, and I have no doubt this won't be the last we've heard of Little Lapin.
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