Lusts - call of the void - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Lusts - call of the void

by Howard Scott Rating:10 Release Date:2018-11-16
Lusts - call of the void
Lusts - call of the void

Let's say you happen to have a Delorean motor car in your garage equipped with the highly sought after flux capacitor option. Let's say you decide to take a day trip back 30 years to the mid-1980’s. You could feel completely comfortable taking the new album from Lusts, “call of the void” with you without drawing attention. This collaborative effort from brothers Andrew and James Stone takes us back to the halcyon days when Echo and the Bunnymen, Depeche Mode and New Order brought synth-laced music to the forefront and kept it there for a decade. The more I listened to this album, the more I wondered why this music eventually fell out of favor. “call of the void “ is a delightful throwback to the melodious electronic sounds that began as “ New Wave,” and stuck around until it just wasn’t so new anymore.

Andrew Stone takes care of the guitar and vocal assignments for the duo, while James is into the drums and synths, although everything is done as a joint effort by both members. “call of the void’ contains 12 meaty tracks that add up to over 40 minutes of listening, and all 40 of those minutes are filled with rich textures, strong lyrics, steady vocals and what they call the “reverb-drenched production of classic 80’s post-punk.” Call it what you will, it is just a fun and enriching listen.

Interestingly enough, the disc begins with an instrumental. “i promise to be good” sounds like it was recorded and should be played, in one of those 14th century British abbeys that dot the countryside. Its majestic chorale wall of sound has a parochial and ethereal feel that does a superb job of enticing the listener toward the delights that follow. It has distant echoes of Sir Elton’s now 45 year old “Funeral For a Friend”, which was only the introduction to one of the greatest albums ever recorded.
“heavy thoughts” follows and introduces Andrew’s strong vocals over a throbbing backbeat and wailing background voices. This is what synth-rock should sound like. Let the machines do what they do, but don’t let them overpower the lyrics and basic melody. This mix is right on.

There are tunes that launch young bands to the higher level of success, and “lost highway” is just that. When released as a single last summer, the song grabbed the right ears in all the right places and had people asking just who these brothers from the Midlands were. A jackhammer snare backbeat combines with a waterfall of synth waves and first class guitar work to create an infectious melody that can’t be escaped once experienced. A dark and spooky female lead vocal gives this one a mysterious and foreboding feel that will bore into your brain like a diamond tipped drill. Adding to the mystery is the ID of the singer, who apparently is Andrew's girlfriend, but remains uncredited. Whoever she is, she does a magnificent job on this gem.

The Stone brothers are eager to mention that they are big fans of all things David Lynch-ian, and "lost highway" takes its name from the 1997 movie of the same name. Too bad that Delorean isn’t available because this one would be perfectly at home in "Twin Peaks", "Blue Velvet," or anything else Lynch produced. Another highlight is hearing Andrew make his Fender sound more like a Rickenbacker 12 string than should be possible. Very nice work.

“True romance” follows with a similarly quick pace and highlights the chorus of “strip away the days / changing all your ways / do it all again / and that’s a true romance.” The tune takes a sharp tempo change halfway through and ends in a short but sweet instrumental.

For the only time on the LP, the wall of sound overpowers the vocal on “a girl walks home”. Since the sound is first rate, it isn’t a bad thing, but deciphering the lyrics was a bit more of a challenge than on the other cuts. The percussion, especially, is powerful. but that can be a welcome change from most recordings.

On “joy in a joyless place”, James creates a rhythmic pattern by tapping on pint glasses to create what sounds like an electronic xylophone. With some interesting scrambled sounding backing vocals and a syncopated drum beat, this is one of the more creative endeavors offered here. Once again, the melody is just heavenly no matter what is being used to create it.

The mood begins to slow down a bit on the second half of the album, and “heartbeats” introduces us to a more laid-back atmosphere with less production. This is quickly followed with “lost_found” which goes full bore into ballad territory with a dreamy ambience and superb vocals by Andrew. This is the kind of song that any songwriter would love to call their own. It's rather stunning.

The boys in Lusts say that they wanted to “create a nostalgic song about the future” with “ten years”. That sounds like a tall order, but the strong lyrical content here allows them to accomplish it quite handily. “If I decided a degree just wasn’t for me / will I drown in debt or regret?” and “Where will I be in ten years? Will I be lying to myself? / Will I be always trying to reach you or will I be with someone else?” are examples of the questions we would answer. Darn, that Delorean sure would come in handy, wouldn’t it!?!

“Machine” has the sound of a soundtrack to an illegal rave held somewhere in a dank warehouse on the wrong sound of town. The boys then double clutch into a completely different aura with “zero”, which returns to near ballad territory with a dominant keyboard structure wrapping around Andrew’s vocals to mold another example of first class composition.

The grand finale, which comes too soon, is “zebra”. It is hard to imagine anyone writing a better example of this genre of music than this one. The backbeat once again grabs your attention like an unexpected lightning bolt and is then enhanced by a spoken-word vocal that sounds like a dystopian newsman reading a teleprompter. Once the chorus kicks in, the overwhelming symphony of sound reminds us of just how uplifting correctly constructed electronica can be. This song is an absolute masterpiece of how to make this kind of sound.

In the press materials for “call of the void", the Lusts guys speak of wanting to create a positive vibe in a sometimes thematically dark experience and living through episodes which can place the listener on the edge without getting the urge to jump. That is all well and good, and I admire the thematic approach to the endeavour. For me personally, however, I just want it to sound good. “call of the void” accomplishes that without question. When it was over, I felt like standing next to my turntable with a lit lighter, hoping for an encore. With none forthcoming, I was satiated by starting again from the beginning, more than once! Lusts will be embarking on a short tour of Blighty in late November and early December, and if there weren’t about four thousand miles of water between me and those locales, I would certainly be in attendance. This is one of the best LP's I have heard in 2018.

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