(By The Time It Gets Dark Records, out Fri 9 Nov 2018)
Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam kick off their new album Blackout Cowboy with a tune perfectly designed to please. Running From A Ghost is a rollicking, catchy song primed for a top spot in the Greatest Hits album should the band ever go from “cult heroes in their native Birmingham” to staples of the UK wide indie scene. Thrashing guitars, soaring vocals and lyrics verging on the anthemic all fit neatly into the three minute and ten second time slot. An ideal track to please the fans and a pretty good pitch to convert the newcomers.
However the album’s second track instantly feels like a more mosh-pit B-side, a slapdash remake of the killer first track. And it’s this inherent sameness that dulls the sharp wit and talent of the band.
The album picks up with Meatloaf To The Camera, a song that should be designed to score indie kids, yet rises above its station, with flavours of The Stone Roses and classic American guitar anthems. The band finally decide to trade in the navel-gazing thrashing for a bit of experimental form playing and the album is all the better for it. The punchy lyrics are given the focus they deserve and as the track fades into the post-four-minutes nether realms it feels like an earned climax.
As the album grows and climbs, each musician is given chance to show-off, if not explore. It isn’t until Blackout Cowboy decides to punch out with a sensitive, low-key segment that the album becomes truly engaging as opposed to just fun. The song immediately ramps back up with faux-punk screams and furious guitars, but rather than an intelligent contrast it feels more like an apology for accidentally getting a bit quiet and mopey.
MK Ultra is a welcome venture into new territory. Had every track been this angry tale of control and paranoia, then the band would have broken a mould of their own making. Mind Control is a sweet send off to the album, a little shoe-gazey, a little punk, a little experimental but all too late. Save for a few great tracks the album is standard enjoyable fare for a band not running out of steam, but certainly running over familiar territory. It’s a fun, if patchy, outing.