(All Good Clean Records, out now)
“What year is this from?” you may ask while listening to the second album from Danish Psych-rock seven-piece Red Lama, so heavily does it draw from the psychedelic rock of late 60s and early 70s. This is a genre that has been thriving once again in the last seven or eight years particularly with the likes of Tame Impala, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard and War on Drugs (although granted the latter moved away from psychedelia towards heartland rock on their last record).
That said, there is more to the band than merely regurgitating the sounds of psychedelia gone by. If you listen carefully, you can hear a myriad of influences at play here from trip hop to krautrock to art-rock to shoegaze.
Of these, it is the trip-hop element that might standout as the most curious. It generally works though and is more pronounced on the record than you may imagine. It works most beautifully on the standout track of the album, Awakening, which comes with a bass line riff that strongly brings to mind Massive Attack’s Angel. The track is also notable for its guest spot from Danish clarinettist Bjonko which infuses the band’s rock stylings – all crashing drums and swirling guitars – with a splash of Balkan jazz, creating a heady brew indeed.
Nothing else on the album quite compares to this stunning track, though there are a few in this nine song collection that come close to it, particularly Fular whose great quiet/loud dynamic lures you in with a slinky bass line and quiet vocals and then pummels you with a wall of percussion and guitar.
There are also a number of surprises here with tracks starting in one place and landing in quite another. The opener Perfect Strangers is a good example. For the first four minutes of its seven minute run time, it sounds like an 80s indie track, but it builds to something much heavier with the use of an organ reminiscent of latter day Opeth.
Not everything works. The track Post Optimism, while perfectly pleasant, feels slight and a bit odd. It would not sound out of place on a Stone Roses record. Also, Have A Great Today, again never breaks beyond merely a solid, middling psych track. But these are minor complaints in what is generally a very impressive sophomore outing.