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The songwriting partnership of Andy Barlow and Lou Rhodes always had a reputation for being combustive, so when Lamb announced their split in 2004, following the release of their third album “Between Darkness And Wonder” , it was taken seriously.

The songwriting partnership of Andy Barlow and Lou Rhodes always had a reputation for being combustive, so when Lamb announced their split in 2004, following the release of their third album Between Darkness And Wonder , it was taken seriously. They didn’t need to spell out that they’d split for good.

When they suddenly appeared at some spots on the UK festival circuit in 2009, almost a decade on from their high-point, the duo emphasised that they hadn’t actually reformed, and when those appearances expanded into a 37-date tour, they said the same thing again, tinging the situation with drama.

"There has been quite a lot of anticipation from our end," says Lou. "We’ve had a lot of people on email going ‘when are you ever going to make another album?’

"I’ve been touring with my solo albums and Andy’s been making his solo record, and a lot of the interviews we’d do everybody would be saying ‘when will Lamb get back together?’ I seem to wonder whether that hype comes from the band rather than just naturally happening."

The pair are in good humour, enjoying how nicely they’ve timed this. The success of their live run after such an absence was one important factor in their decision to start writing again.

"We had been led to believe that if bands don’t put out albums or keep touring then people forget about them really quickly," says Andy. "As we embarked on this whole new phase of touring it just made us realise how much genuine love there is for the band and how loads of people have got into us since we haven’t been touring. That was a real kind of eye opener."

It wasn’t as simple as picking up where they left off after the last record, but more about waiting for the right moment to re-visit the headspace they were in 15 years ago when they recorded their first album in that Manchester basement, a jarring marriage of breaks, drum ‘n’ bass, and Lou’s haunted vocals.

"We wanted to take it back to first principles of when the band formed; what we were motivated by then, the rawness of the first record that we made, before major labels and all sorts of other factors had an effect on us," states Lou.

"The period that we both spent away from the project made us take an outside look at the journey that we went on as a band. The thing that would make us write a new record was having something new to say, and I think we definitely just came to that point, where it was just: Right, this would be a good time. This is certainly not a kind of reunion and a going back to what was, this is a whole new chapter for Lamb, and it’s been an amazing process for us."

Their individual solo projects over the last five years created a contrast to better define what they wanted the new album, simply known as 5, to sound like. From Lou Rhodes’ perspective, there seems to have been an anxiety about accepting the clash of worlds has been so apparent in the band’s sound, without having a more controlled solo environment to opt out to.

"Part of the reason Lamb split, I think, was I was really yearning to do my own acoustic stuff, and just kinda have some freedom from technology and just explore that whole avenue," explains Lou.

"Having recorded three solo albums and explored a lot acoustically, it means that I can come back to Lamb and I’m not expecting that from Lamb. I have my acoustic project and I can go there when I need to kind of feed that yearning. We can allow Lamb to be what it always should have been and what it was right in the beginning: the interplay of Andy and I and the whole project with technology, and there isn’t that pull to bring in all these other elements."

Andy jumps in: "I think we really kind of push each other out of our comfort zones. She was the first singer I’d ever worked with, so I kind of thought all singers were that good: open to new ideas. Her pitch was really good and her timing was really good, and all these things that I kind of took for granted, and then I went and worked with other singers, and went ‘oh. Fuck, they’re not all like that, then’."

There has always been an irritating tendency for reviewers to generalise the band’s sound as trip-hop, but a left-field description came from a recent live review which described Lamb’s music as ‘life-affirming’.

"Ha, life affirming?" cracks Lou.

Andy: "I like that. Especially the live shows… I can’t come away from a live show trying not to feel ‘life-affirmed’."

The music’s positivity is there, but it’s ill at ease.

"If you just did positive music all the time, after two or three tracks it would wear off," Andy says.

"When music’s too lovely, after a while it’s just sickening. On our first album, a track like Cotton Wool, essentially it’s a love song, but you’ve got the equivalent of someone being beaten up within the drum programming which then kind of frames the song in a completely different way. I think that when a band or a song has inflicted its original purpose and it brings in a darker element, even though it’s a life-affirming song it makes it even more life-affirming because you’ve got this amazing frame to contrast it with."

"Yeah, you tend to do that a lot, really," Lou tells Andy.

"Using a quite dark sounding idea or drum track, I think it’s really all about the contradictions within our music that are actually what makes it work, and what gives it a kind of uniqueness. I don’t think we’d be comfortable with it if it was all really nice."

LAMB play The Prince Bandroom on February 17. Tickets and everything through 5 will be out soon. Hopefully.