In leaping onto the SOhO stage for an early show last Saturday night, Lenka set out to show us who she was. While her musical crusade through the Americas might be a new undertaking, the erstwhile Australian has been splashing her name around the nation in no uncertain terms. If the “Lenka” banner that hung conspicuously behind the band and their whimsical stage settings wasn’t enough of an introduction, then the slew of Lenka’s songs that have been featured in Old Navy commercials and graced television shows such as Grey’s Anatomy, Ugly Betty, and 90210 certainly were.
Having emerged in Australia as the host of a morning cartoon program, Lenka’s musical forays first began in the atmospheric electronic ensemble Decoder Ring. Now brandishing a sound all her own, one based on a sturdy electronic footing, but flavored with an endearing quirkiness, Lenka’s evolution into a solo artist is an interesting and fitting coupling of her previous undertakings.
Backed by a four-piece band that featured everything from sequencing to horns, Lenka and her collective bounced their way through a relatively comprehensive portion of the album, along with a sublime rendition of Modest Mouse‘s “Gravity Rides Everything” and an interpretation of M. Ward‘s “Vincent O’Brien.” Opening with one of her television staples, “Trouble Is a Friend,” Lenka easily charmed the notably young SOhO audience, who made the most of the show’s early start time.
While many of Lenka’s lyrics embrace tales of broken hearts, longing, and false starts, they are presented as almost joyous odes to human experience. And as she wrapped her sinuous vocals around the chorus of “The Show” and threw forth the lines “I am just a little bit caught in the middle / Life is a maze, love is a riddle / I don’t know where to go / Can’t do it alone / I’ve tried, and I don’t know why”, one couldn’t help but skip along to the lament. It is certainly an intriguing musical world in which Lenka invites us to visit. And it’s clearly a world that’s ever expanding.