Lucust French is from Jerome, Arizona and is best known for his day job, Burn Thee Insects which he formed with father Mitch. This time round Lucust has gone it alone and formed Lazer Beam, a solo desert pop project which sees him writing all the music and playing all the instruments. The artwork is pretty darn cool, a long deceased astronaut having their eyes pecked out by vultures. It’s somewhat grim but thankfully not plumming the depths of ludicrousness ala Cannibal Corpse.
The album starts with Sink Or Swim and combines the anthemic desert rock of Queens of the Stone Age with the grunge darkness of Nirvana. From the outset it’s clear that Lucust takes his vocal cues from Josh Homme, while the music itself has a driving tone that I rather enjoyed. In the album promo notes, Arctic Monkeys are mentioned as an influence and although I can’t claim to be a fan of the Sheffield indie quartet, there are subtle hints of their sound on In the Moonlight. The vocals have more of a lighter indie flavour, yet compliments the heavier music (which is akin to Saint Vitus on a sugar rush as opposed to Quaaludes) rather well.
Royal Blood’s brand of blues influenced stoner rock makes an appearance on Don’t Tell, throw in White Stripes garage stomp and it makes for a surprisingly effective tune. It also had me thinking a little of the sparseness of German duo The Picturebooks. Sno Burn features some nice Devo-esque post-punk, the structure of the track reminding me a little of Uncontrollable Urge from that band’s debut album Are We Not Men? You Drive Me Crazy is not a bad track, just a little nondescript, more filler than anything, coming and going and leaving very little impression.
whether it be stoner/doom rock, power-pop, post-punk or indie, you have all the ingredients for an engaging and fun listen…
Next up is Take Me Home, this is by far the most pop orientated track on the album. It’s been described as ‘a raucous and raging boy-meets-girl tale’ and again sees Lucust channelling his inner Arctic Monkey. It definitely brought to mind that band’s Josh Homme produced album Humbug which saw them adopt shades of desert rock. Even the theme of the track is reminiscent of The Monkeys with lyrics such as ‘What do I have to lose today, a ballet of foreplay let’s convey a way’ indicative of the poetic approach favoured by Alex Turner.
Damn The Reptiles is a welcome return to a heavier sound, and when I say heavier I’m not talking at the Weedeater level, more akin to Masters of Reality bluesier brand of stoner rock. Silver starts delicately before the appearance of a kickass doom riff, the likes of which Wino conceives for breakfast, comes into the picture. Adam & Eve has a very 90s alt-metal feel, think Helmet during their Aftertaste era and a little Gruntruck, making for a very nostalgic and fun way to conclude the album.
Variety is the spice of life and Lazer Beam have demonstrated that you can experiment musically without betraying your core influences or ‘selling out’. I’ve bemoaned in many a review how saturated the stoner/doom scene has become with seemingly every band sporting bellbottoms, long hair and playing music that takes its cues from the usual sources (Sabbath, Kyuss etc). Judging by the promo photo it’s a positive joy therefore to see Lucust French going against type, resembling if anything a professional pro-skater. Add to this the sheer range of musical styles, whether it be stoner/doom rock, power-pop, post-punk or indie, you have all the ingredients for an engaging and fun listen.
Scribed by: Reza Mills