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Orlando Weeks leaps out of The Maccabees shadow with ‘LOJA’

Orlando Weeks’ third album steps him out of looming shadow of The Maccabees and into a limelight of his own.

Over the summer of 2012, I was absolutely obsessed with The Maccabees third record Given To The Wild. I’d just been through a break up and found myself unemployed, so lets just say things weren’t looking too optimist. The bleak and self-pitying (but still absolutely beautiful) vibe of the album hit more than a relatable chord and it was one I listened to endlessly. A few years later, I finally got to see them live at Benicassim Festival in 2016. Unfortunately it would turn out to be one of their final performances, a split that was still a hard one to take.

Over the years, I stubbornly refused to listen to the different side projects from band members believing nothing they’d achieve apart could ever be as great as the main event itself.

However, consider myself blown away by the latest album by their former frontman Orlando Weeks, LOJA – the moment he steps out of looming shadow of The Maccabees and into a limelight of his own. Swapping his hometown from London to Lisbon, Weeks has offered up a truly stunning solo record and one that places the Portuguese capital city as a beautiful backdrop (a city I’m visiting in September after my wedding, hence my draw to the record in the first place!).

Across this assured collection of 11 tracks, the 40-year-old singer’s soothing tones and the beauty of the music come together superbly for an emotive yet uplifting listening experience. It all sounds refreshingly modern and intimate at the same time.

Opener ‘Longing’ sets the bar high with some heartfelt vocals and subtle synths, and ‘Best Night’ brings a more percussive quality to the fore - the pretty pianos an ethereal chorus vocals are just spine-tinglingly beautiful. And thereafter, the rest of the album never lets up either.

On ‘Dig’ he joins forces with Wet Leg’s Rhian Teasdale. The two singers compliment each other perfectly in their trading of blows and worn out promises. Aided by ominous pianos and angular guitars, the power of the track lies in its subtle build up and beauty. Following Weeks’ ethereal bridge vocal refrain (“I'll believe it / When I see it”), the track culminates in a euphoria that still maintains a sense of contained frustration.

For me though, mid-point track ‘Good To See You’ is the one I’ve found myself revisiting the most. The song itself throws in many emotions within such a short space of time - hurt, sadness, warmth and euphoria. And finally, ballad ‘Beautiful Place’ brings the album to a close on a tender tearjerker, allowing Weeks’ voice to take prominence in a love letter to his new hometown.

Importantly, LOJA, which is Portuguese for “store” and an ode to his new art studio, is an album of zero skips and one akin to a gentle hug while watching the sunset. If you’re like me, you’ll be absolutely gripped for the entirety. And that’s a very powerful thing indeed.


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