Can Lightning Bolt even make a bad album? Well, I suppose if they, I dunno, started sporting J Crew, ripped off Paul Simon’s whiteboy Afrobeat, and wrote a concept album about how rad their dad’s Cape Cod estate is, sure, that would be relatively gnarly. But worry not, this is Providence-reared, Load-loyal Lightning Bolt – ADHD rhythmic, skull-crushing low-end fuzz purveying, ski mask doning, intestinal fortitude testing, Frances Bacon meets fridge art shit on their album covers makin’, inclined toward all that is guerrilla style, quite possibly spawned from the primordial ooze Lightning Bolt. A veritable Rush for the noise kids; everything the two Brians touch is aces. And with their forthcoming Earthly Delights, Lightning Bolt comes correct… uh-gain… with an effort every bit as strong as Hypermagic Mountain and with an even more adventurous spirit to boot.
Though I wanted to hold off a bit after first hearing the jam hive before publishing my thoughts in narrative form, I did post some quips on the blog’s Twitter a couple of weeks ago. I think I said something to the effect of “Earthly Delights is Lightning Bolt’s Meet the Beatles’ and ‘I could get my folks into this record.’ Well, none of that is exactly true, but there’s a very odd, visceral melodicism running underneath the album. I noticed this on the first track I listened to, “Nation of Boar.” I chose to listen to this particular canticle first since it’s called “Nation of Boar.” The song exits with a rather gorgeous, mystic progression that makes me feel like returning to nature. Weird, right? Well, while LB hasn’t exactly gone verse-chorus-verse on us just yet, the more concise songs (half the album features songs under five minutes) yield less dissonance and fuckin’ around, replacing the new space with extremely structured, simple, almost hummable compositions. That is not to say that LB has lost any edge, but simply that Earthly Delights throws a little Occam’s Razor into the mix. The group’s opting to keep their disposition a bit simpler and less freeform. Hence the hyperbolic comparison to Meet the Beatles. I have to say that I like the results.
“Colossus” bring a slow-burning, nasty stoner metal groove to the forefront, and acts as one of LB’s most driving songs since Wonderful Rainbow‘s “Assassins.” But don’t think the Brians are ever looking behind, because “Funny Farm” comes at you out of no-fucking-where. It’s a country song. That’s right, B Gibs does Buck Owens-style western licks through his grody bass distortion. Shit you not. “Funny Farm” is outta control ridiculous. “S.O.S.” then takes you through East London for a little oi punk call-response at machine gun speed. Again, awesome. After four years, you’d have to expect something insane to end up on the new record, especially with these bros.
As with all Lightning Bolt releases, there is one real ultimate epic trek through Middle Earth jam. Hypermagic Mountain‘s was “Dead Cowboy,” Wonderful Rainbow‘s was “The Two Towers” (interestingly enough, huh?), and with Earthly Delights, they save the big guns for last with closing track “Transmissionary.” The 12-and-a-half minute flight is definitely the closest that Lightning Bolt has brushed against psychedelia-leaning prog, and I mean that with all due respect and good vibes. If The Moody Blues cut the foreplay after Seventh Sojourn and just fuckin’ rawked, they may have gotten close to “Transmissionary.” The cut showcases an almost orchestral approach – organic, resplendent, and soaring to climax. It’s a sumptuous journey that leaves you refreshed, enlightened, but upset that Earthly Delights just ended real cold-like. Oh well… just gotta hit repeat on that sucka and get lifted again.
Earthly Delights solidifies once again that Lightning Bolt unequivocally remains one of the most relevant bands today. I hope they tour crazy on this record, and as soon I get some some dates sent to me, I’ll definitely let you all in the loop. In the interim, go buy Earthly Delights at your favorite record dealer when it drops October 13. Or preoder it soon from Load. Do it, poopypants!
Fagen-Becker Quality Rating