June 14, 2011

The only thing Sach O hates about this are the band name and album title.

Synthesis: the combination of two or more entities that together form something new. It sounds simple but based on the amount of records these past few years that seemed intent on recreating previous musical movements without adding anything new, you’d think it’s the hardest trick in the world. From “classic Hip-Hop” to “frozen in amber post-punk” to endless House revivals, the past decade has seen far too many musical chefs afraid to deviate from old recipes with incredibly boring results: if I hear another wannabee UK soul singer over fauxtown arrangements, I’m going to vomit.

lol don’t quite cover new ground on Me Me but at least they have the common decency to steal from a variety of quality sources. Grabbing from Trip-Hop (Trophy Wife), Alt-rock (Quarter-Life Crisis), Shoegaze (Squeeze Me), Dubstep (Pinch Me), Synth-Pop (Dare Me) and Chillwave (the rest), the group cannily manages to keep the listener’s attention by building their musical identity around a few central themes instead of a specific genre. Strong vocals and clever songwriting are the unifying factors: like contemporaries the Weeknd, lol sing about 21st century sadness where comedowns and suicidal thoughts collide with after-parties and casual sex. The vibe is dark and moody, compensating for the whiffs of pretension that usually sink this sort of hipster-art project from the get-go and while the vocals are standard amateur fare, they only get in the way of things when Jamie Pullen interrupts things for a solo turn on “Degrade Me.” ProTip: let the girls sing.

I took a while to write about Me Me to see how I’d feel about it after a couple of weeks in rotation but I’m pleased to say that it’s held up well and currently sits atop my album of the year list. Impeccably sequenced, Me Me comes at you best foot forward with a front end full of pop songs and won’t let you go until its final, instrumental triptych is over. Most surprisingly, it succeeds in merging new school electronic bass and textures to a song-based format, something James Blake, Jamie Woon and Katy B couldn’t quite hit. Whether a gateway drug for Shoegaze fans trying to figure out this Bass music stuff or the soundtrack to the morning-after, Me Me’s detached darkness is seductively appealing and by treating its influences on its own terms, the record manages to stand apart from the pack of watered-down bass and hyped-up pop reaching for critical attention. This is a meme worth paying attention to.

MP3: lol – Pinch Me (128KBPS)

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