Although Lockette formed sometime in the late 2010’s, the members involved are no strangers to the New England music scene. Lead singer/rhythm guitarist Bridget Duggan has worked for years promoting other bands and booking for various rock clubs around the city, and bassist Tracy Putnam’s pedigree includes mid-2010s Boston indie darlings Elephants. Rounding out this lineup is lead guitarist Ashley Rhodes and drummer Gabrielle Otto… two equally talented and seasoned musicians about town. In short, Lockette’s brand of no-nonsense indie pop rock exudes a sense of cool confidence that one should expect from a group of veteran musicians respectfully working together. Within that context, I think I can sneak in a fair comparison of their sound to The Breeders (as lazy as that might seem).
Lockette’s newest EP Into Lungs arrives a little over a year after 2019’s Compromise. These two recordings share a lot of common ground for certain: Both are composed of three tracks, both were recorded at Chillhouse Studios (with Will Holland behind the board), and of course there are the obvious sonic ties. The band’s affinity for fuzz pedals is clearly spelled out on their Bandcamp bio, after all. While “fuzziness” as a sonic device is certainly nothing novel, Lockette owns it to the extent that it genuinely is an integral part of their sound and their charm. While distortion was essentially developed to generate “aggressive” tones for electric guitar, the fuzz inherent in Lockette’s sound is actually pretty warm and inviting. Each EP’s respective three tracks even follow a similar sequence (arguably): A “mission statement” track that begins with the letter C (okay THAT part probably wasn’t planned), a more upbeat and raucous number, and a moodier, down-tempo track. This point about the sequencing speaks more to the group’s savvy and experience in the local rock scene than there being any lack of new ideas, though. In a way I’m reminded of the old adage “You should be able to make your point as a live band in under 15 minutes.” And that’s not to say Into Lungs doesn’t demonstrate growth, either. The tracks build upon the path forged on Compromise, taking their competent approach to Boston indie rock (yes it’s a genre) and implementing some new sophisticated songwriting techniques. Opening track “Crescendo” seems to demonstrate this right off the bat with vocal hooks straight out of Metric’s Fantasies record and fuzz-laden chord progressions that dance between major and minor with joyful abandon. Lyrically, “Crescendo” paints a visage of someone’s spine being swung around their own rib cage (lungs and ribs seem to be a running theme for this EP); possibly a metaphor for the suffocating nature of imposter syndrome. Or perhaps it was meant to be taken literally? Does Duggan have a secret sordid past and some serious crimes to atone for? Ah who cares, the song is a bop.
But where “Crescendo” hints at claustrophobia, “Daily” seems to take direct aim at our post-COVID quarantined way of life and its mundanities. Phrases like “extended stay”, “every day the same”, “cover your mouth”, “every day routine” are peppered throughout, accompanied by hazy psychedelic guitars and a driving rhythm section. Is a song about quarantine ennui that intriguing of a concept circa 2021? Probably not. But, I tend to think lyrically time-stamping songs have their place in the annals of history. And I’m confident history will remember “Daily” as a reliable first-person account of an unusual pocket of time.
The pseudo-titular “Lungs” completes the EP on a pensive yet no less despondent note. Musings on the relationship between breathing and crippling anxiety are apparent, once again tying us back to the overarching lungs/ribs theme. Have I mentioned the fantastic artwork, designed by bassist Tracy Putman? We got a ribcage, we got a keyhole on the spinal column, nestled on a bed of dahlias and peonies. In all honesty, it’s one of the more striking album covers I’ve come across from last year and does a fantastic job encapsulating the overarching concept.
Into Lungs accomplishes what a follow-up record appropriately should; it hits on all the strengths and pleasant idiosyncrasies of Compromise while demonstrating growth. One thing I did note was there seems to be a bit more interplay between the band members; while this was not necessarily absent beforehand, it is markedly more prominent on Into Lungs. Here’s hoping that quarantine life doesn’t slow things down too much for Lockette and if anything, forces an opportunity for some follow-ups to Into Lungs. And I think that about corns it! Wear your mask.