[18 May 2009]
Perhaps the most fascinating (and telling) moments on The Low Frequency in Stereo’s fourth LP come during the album’s eighth and final track, “Solar System”. The tune is nine glorious minutes of ominous white noise, heavy drums, gang vocals, insistent riffs, electronic blips and jaunty horns—-sort of what it might sound like if Stereolab brought their carefree, buoyant, wonderfully weird Euro-brand of post-rock to bear on Radiohead’s “The National Anthem”.
The track is fascinating because it progressively burrows its way into listeners’ brains, slowly but surely making its case for paying the attention it rapturously keeps, telling because it highlights the wide spectrum of ability and sound with which the Norwegian rockers are comfortable. The members of The Low Frequency In Stereo are seriously skilled, proficient at the art of marrying infectious rhythms with subversive melodies and fine detail work that never forsakes the effect of little things for the sake of the bigger picture; yet, the band never take themselves terribly seriously at any point here. How much gravity can one really expect from a band that names a song after Levar Burton’s Star Trek: The Next Generation persona “Geordie LaForge?” Perhaps the band’s bio gives the best indication of their sound, mentioning acts like Stereolab, Can, Joy Division, and The B-52’s in the same breath.
Futuro is a forty-plus minute joyride of tripped-out, fuzzed-out rock suitable for the dance club or the local anarchists club. Nearly every track is a tribute to the band’s ability to match their remarkable versatility with equal portions of clarity of vision and generosity of spirit. Rarely does a letdown occur over the course of eight high-intensity tracks; even on the album’s low point (the Eastern-influenced “Starstruck”), what begins on a foundation of overly poppy, somewhat hackneyed riffs eventually gives way to several instances of blissful melodic construction.
Futuro begins with the brisk “Turnpike” (one of only two tracks which clocks in at less than four minutes), a track which weaves its caustic opening tones with rhythmic ostinatos, jazz drums, and ‘60s organ runs to create a moment in which alternative rock, ‘90s electronica, and retro psychedelia exist side-by-side. From there, the album never looks back; the opening cut’s successor is “Texas Fox”, a full-on assault of hazy, distorted guitars tempered only slightly by a gliding vocal turn and a set of absurdly entertaining lyrics about cows who might be farmers, farmers who might be cows, and the nocturnal inclinations of trailer park residents.
Also worth noting are tracks like “Mt. Pinatubo” with its laid-back, pulsing retro groove and “Sparkle Drive”, which opens with shimmery keys and chugging rhythms, evolving into a solid indie rock track with a variety of possible audiences. “The End is The End” also benefits from a healthy groove, old-school guitars, and a simple yet contagious melody.
With the exception of “Starstruck”, seven of the eight tracks here can be separated from the pack and seen as unqualified successes. Yet, the beauty of Futuro is ultimately seen when the album is taken as a whole. On its surface, the record is terribly catchy, groove-laden, well-produced and well-written; cutting deeper, Futuro gives audiences a long look at a band with creativity ingrained into the very fiber of their being. The Low Frequency in Stereo craft their songs with imagination, spirit, and skill and Futuro is a rafter-rocking, body-shaking portrait of their vision.