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Sprain’s ‘The Lamb as Effigy’

On October 16, a little over a month after the release of their second album, The Lamb as Effigy, Los Angeles-based experimental rock quartet Sprain announced that they had broken up.

The opening track of the band’s now final album, titled “Man Proposes, God Disposes,” sets a grim tone. Strings swell and fade before an infectious riff and bass groove take over. The first words barrel in: “It’s about control, or lack thereof,” barks vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Alex Kent.

Photo Credit: Sprain

The standout quality of The Lamb as Effigy, whose full title is The Lamb as Effigy or Three Hundred and Fifty XOXOXOS for a Spark Union With My Darling Divine, is its ambition. Over the album’s 96-minute runtime, Sprain’s sound spans a multitude of genres, both across and within individual songs. Any expectations for a typical post-punk or noise rock album established by the opener are bucked by “Margin of Error,” a 24-minute tune that overwhelms the listener through continuous drones of guitar and cymbals.

Sprain has constructed a towering manifestation of rage, guilt, misery, and all the unpleasantry in between. Across eight tracks, the tone shifts from sneering self-mockery to defeatist exhaustion to wretched submission. Kent’s vocals serve as a primary vehicle for this change as he moves from full-on howls to a lethargic drone. The unifying theme is that The Lamb as Effigy is the sound of a man desperately seeking punishment as a means of salvation.

Above all, The Lamb as Effigy commands your attention. After the album ends, after Kent’s vocals have broken down and the last smattering of keys has faded away, the silence becomes oppressive. All that is left is a profound sense of emptiness. Sprain may be over, but even in their absence, The Lamb as Effigy doesn’t let you look away.


Olivia Zhao is a Freshman in the MSB hoping to study Business & Global Affairs.


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