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Bad For Lazarus 25 EP

The new EP from Bad For Lazarus – simply entitled 25 – is intriguing. Not solely because of its remarkable musical content, but because its general concept contains quite a surprising and fairly unique promotional angle. The central idea for ‘25’ was to create a small collection of songs that consisted of a more minimal nature – more lofi than the frenetic sounds the Brighton five-piece are perhaps known for. I say ‘perhaps known for’, because the thing is, Bad For Lazarus have yet to release their debut album – out in May – and apart from some individual tracks and a string of support slots have yet to actually become ‘known’ for much. So why release an EP of music that is out of your comfort zone before the release of your debut album, and before you are ‘known’ enough for listeners to recognize the ‘prog’ nature of the EP? I’m intrigued. But is it worth listening to?

Yes. The musicianship and, in particular, the vocals are simply too good to ignore. This is dirty rock’n’roll with elements of Motown, southern rock, and an underlying indie-garage-rock component giving it a commercially viable edge). Frontman (and co-guitarist) Rich Fownes has an impressive CV – having performed as part of UNKLE and being signed up for Nine Inch Nails (though never actually playing with them) – and his time in 80s Matchbox B-line Disaster (RIP) makes a lot of sense upon hearing the grubby and trashy guitars of his new band. His vocals are gruff in a similar way to hero Tom Waits – though are a little more melodic and coherent that Tom’s (not that we’d ever want any more melody or coherence from Tom!).

The opening title track is the catchiest moment of the EP, despite the dark lyrical content (i.e. the ‘blood into my lungs’ chorus), but ‘Cozy’ is the real highlight. It start off a low-key folk song before a garish second half kicks in – loud, grumbling guitars and barked vocals bleed into a blazing, distorted guitar solo and crashing symbols. ‘Jon Vs Apocalypse’ features some downbeat acoustic guitars, but Fownes raspy voice, plus some off-kilter percussion, strings and moody brass, add some depth. ‘Go, Diego, Go!’ starts with southern organ chords and contains a backing choir – both giving the track a gospel feel – and the aggressive, industrial drumming interlude is simple but affective. The EP ends with a stripped down version of the title track, which doesn’t feel particularly necessary.

There is a bluesy overtone to the EP, and an unexpected doo-wop element is prevalent throughout – the ‘dah ders’ and ‘oohs’ of ‘25’, the ‘shooby doo wahs’ of ‘Cozy’, and the ‘ooh aah ha’s’ of ‘Go, Deigo, Go!’). This EP may be intentionally downbeat, but Bad For Lazarus really do sound their best when they pick up the pace, distortion and aggression (as on ‘Cozy’). So, although ‘25’ is well worth checking out, it really acts as a warm-up to the debut album – perhaps the idea was to ease us into the predictably lairy sounds of that full-length.

Originally published by AAA Music here

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~ by cliveparisrozario on March 20, 2011.

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