Published on January 2nd, 2019

Lung by Natalie Jenkins & Rachelle Caplan

In a post-big band, post-wall of sound world, less is often more. And in some instances the more creatively minimal the musicians get, the finer the découpage. The Ramones found success by stripping rock ’n’ roll down. William Burroughs hit on a new lyricism with his randomized, cut-up texts.

More recently groups like Mates of State and Mommy and Daddy have used the keyboard/synth and drums combo to great effect while more niche acts like No Comply have mined drum and bass guitar to violent hardcore ends. Somewhere in a stark space between sweet electro pop and all-out punk-rock anarchic disorder stands Cincinnati’s Lung, taking the drums and marrying them with cello and frantic-to-operatic singing.

Built around the cello and voice of Kate Wakefield and kept on line by the drumming of Daisy Caplan, Lung is dark and light — rays of hope dotting a forbidding landscape. The classical influence is no chimera: Wakefield is a former opera singer who fully understands the destructive gloom that often drives that old-world genre. Caplan’s  metrics display a power and girth learned in stints with rockers Foxy Shazam and punkers Babe Rage.

In their short existence they’ve delivered a cohesive debut, 2017’s “Bottom of the Barrel,” and followed it a year later with “All the King’s Horses,” a delightful album with a sequencing and flow that feel unerringly novelistic. Even when they deploy a cover — David Bowie’sI’m Afraid of Americans” — it feels perfectly placed and matched to the album’s originals, and Lung make the song their own in the most hauntingly beautiful way.

Wakefield and Caplan are collaborators since 2016, but their chemistry is an evolution made possible by what they did in separate projects beforehand. Their energy, coalescing here so seamlessly, is the rendered artistry of having worked it all before and pared everything down to just what is necessary. Wakefield’s voice — because you can never take the opera out of the girl — is the greatest beneficiary of this distillation. If you’re wanting to hear something new and wondering what music at its essence sounds like, Lung would be a perfect band to catch live.

Lung performs with Adam Sheetz 8pm on January 8 at Voltaire in West Palm Beach. ~ Abel Folgar

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