Atmosphere: When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold

Atmosphere: When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold

Atmosphere doesn't let a lot of grass grow under its feet, and since 2005's You Can't Imagine How Much Fun We're Having, the Minneapolis indie-rap duo has logged hundreds of shows, four more Sad Clown EPs, and a download-only album, Strictly Leakage. But studio albums usually offer a clearer statement of purpose, and on the new When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold, Atmosphere casts its net wide. Musically, Lemons is lusher and more ruminative than the harder-hitting Imagine, with producer Ant calling on Atmosphere's live backing band—plus guests, including Tom Waits (beatboxing!) and TV On The Radio's Tunde Adebimpe—to flesh out the sound, enhancing his already-organic approach. That dovetails with Slug's desire to broaden the scope of his incisive, insightful lyrics—the deluxe edition of the CD even includes a 40-page children's story. He's always been a storyteller, usually about his own life, but on Lemons, Slug stretches out more than ever, spinning sympathetic tales about downtrodden, messed-up people gamely getting by, from a harried single mother in "Dreamer" to a homeless man in "The Waitress" who knows his presence is a burden to the only person who acknowledges his humanity. Fatherhood is also a big motif (the album is dedicated "to all dads"), especially strong on the album-closing heartbreaker "In Her Music Box," about a little girl whose innocence hasn't been tarnished by her dad's petty-criminal lifestyle--yet.

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