Lonely Robot – A Model Life track-by-track album review

27 07 2022

John Mitchell’s Lonely Robot release their new album, A Model Life, on limited CD digipak, gatefold 2LP+CD and as a digital album on August 26 2022.

Lonely Robot is the solo project of John Mitchell (It Bites, Arena, Frost*, Kino and The Urbane). A Model Life is album number five, and the first since 2020’s Feelings Are Good, and features Craig Blundell on drums.

“I’m walking in the shadow
of a world I used to know”

Opening with the first digital taster for the album, Recalibrating is a tale of personal re-birth and re-assessment after a relationship has sadly ended, but could possibly be seen as a reaction to the recent axis tilting few years we have all lived through.

Digital God Machine spits bile in the direction of online trolls and mis-informed, opinionated keyboard warriors. Musically, it seems to draw inspiration from Peter Gabriel 4 (Security). The heavily-treated percussion adds a palpable feeling of paranoia and dread, with some fine guitar lines on display towards the middle of the track.

“Throw your ‘oh so learned’ wisdom
At the fool you wish to bait”

Species In Transition builds slowly, as the edgy percussion and found-sounds slowly reveal themselves. Disembodied voices and nature sounds are painted onto the canvas throughout A Model Life, and are a vital part of the musical journey on this stunning album.

“Oh let go, you’re just part of the condition
So goodbye, to the species in transition”

Starlit Stardust is one of the most moving songs on the album, with a powerful and uplifting chorus.

The Island Of Misfit Toys is my favourite track on this release. The Art of Noise and the mid-80s electronica of ZTT artists such as Propaganda drive the production, with a hint of The Knack’s power-pop classic My Sharona thrown in for good measure. A Model Life is overflowing with quality guitar solos, and The Island Of Misfit Toys delivers one of the shortest but most effective solos on A Model Life.

The title track arrives at the mid-point of the album, and is one of the few down-tempo pieces. Suspended keyboard notes and an addictive bass-line underpin the verses on this song of reflection and regret.

The stripped back, short Mandalay acts as a preface to one of the albums key-tracks, the evocative Rain Kings. A track that will surely become a fan favourite, it sends shivers when the drums appear a minute and a half in. This is the song I return to most, although I prefer to listen to the album as a continuous piece, as it is sequenced with so much love and attention.

“There’s some memories, I just can’t erase”

Duty of Care highlights John Mitchell’s production and arrangement skills. The sound is crisp, clear and powerful, with simplicity and nuance in the playing, until a more theatrical performance is needed to deliver the stories in the songs.

Photo by Tom Barnes
Photo by Tom Barnes

The album closes with a real statement of intent. Saving some of his finest guitar work until the end, Mitchell’s performance on In Memoriam is calm, measured and yet emotional.

A Model Life is the most complete and cohesive release from Lonely Robot so far, and one that reveals itself fully after multiple plays.

“And in memoriam, we are not the same
And I will reclaim, yes I will reclaim, what’s mine”

Buy Lonely Robot – A Model Life on vinyl from Amazon

Buy Lonely Robot – A Model Life on CD from Amazon

Buy Lonely Robot – A Model Life on white vinyl (with CD) from Burning Shed

Lonely Robot – A Model Life

Recalibrating
Digital God Machine
Species In Transition
Starlit Stardust
The Island Of Misfit Toys
A Model Life
Mandalay
Rain Kings
Duty Of Care
In Memoriam








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