Album review: ‘LSD’ spins together a dreamlike experience that transcends the mainstream
(Courtesy of Columbia Records)
"LABRINTH, SIA & DIPLO PRESENT... LSD"
April 12, 2019 2:43 pm
Some music is meant to be background noise during a workout or a party – LSD isn’t.
Three artists joined forces to produce a self-titled album, “LABRINTH, SIA & DIPLO PRESENT… LSD,” which was released Friday. The masterful blend of beats with lyrics that play off each other help build an overarching mood of wonder and provoke an emotional response. The album is able to maintain the audience’s interest in the majority of pieces as tracks switch up the pacing within the song each in a unique way.
The initial song, “Welcome to the Wonderful World of,” perfectly encapsulates and introduces the rest of the album by showcasing various styles such as a cappella, robotic synth and even a theatrical portion. The song’s last lines “People of earth, boys and girls, children of all ages/ Welcome to the wonderful world of/ Labrinth, Sia and Diplo,” communicate the notion that the album will be an auditory journey through different themes as opposed to simply a collection of songs to headbang to.
The instrumentals vary greatly between songs, and the lyrics capture attention and call into question the best way to interpret them. Both elements could not stand on their own because neither are incredibly complex, but together they blend to transport listeners away from reality for about 30 minutes.
Though each song in the album deals with differing themes, the trio managed to make them mesh instead of clash by tying them together with a unifying dreamlike, wistful tone. Such diverse themes could be a result of the differences in musical style of the artists. Diplo produces genres like electronic dance music, Sia creates lyrically intriguing pop songs, and Labrinth makes slower tracks that showcase his voice. The result is music in a genre that incorporates all of these styles and allows for a cohesive album.
Pieces such as “Thunderclouds” and “Mountains” sound more like typical tracks Sia would make, leaning more toward the pop side of the music spectrum. These songs are probably the most lyrically complex on the album in terms of containing distinct lyrics and ability to transport the audience to the artist’s world. For example, “Thunderclouds” allows the audience to imagine Labrinth and Sia searching for love with lyrics such as “Where did love go?/ When all is said and done?” and while the instrumentals and the background humming give the track a wishful tone.
Because each song was written by three or more writers, it’s difficult to discern if they are about any particular events or people. But this allows the album to induce a generalized sensation relating to a particular theme as opposed to simply projecting a particular experience onto the audience. Most of the tracks accomplish this by artfully making the instrumentals match the theme the lyrics talk about. For example, “Thunderclouds” has a wonder-struck tone, but the group also imbued the song with a daydream-esque wish for love. Furthermore, having two singers impersonalizes the song and thus makes the music conceptual, rather than act as a narrative through which listeners learn the finite details of artists’ personal lives.
But much of the album’s impact was lost by the fact that most of the songs had been released before the album officially dropped. Six of the songs on the album had already been released, so the collection only holds three full new songs and an introduction. The first two singles were released in mid-2018 – enough time for any anticipation to wear off. The prolonged time between when tracks such as “Genius” and “Thunderclouds” were released and when the album was released caused the hype for the album to go down.
One of the tracks that was released ahead of time was the Lil Wayne remix of “Genius,” which ended up being the final track on the album. The remix simply adds an unnecessary rap verse to the original song, which was already one of their more upbeat pieces. It does not really increase the track’s pacing and the sound effect of a marijuana hit contributes to its tacky sound. Lil Wayne’s verse ends with him painfully rapping a rearranged alphabet, starting with “ABC” and proceeding to insert the word “drug” and then continuing with the alphabet before spelling out the group’s name. This kitsch remix added nothing to the album, clouding the lyrical complexity of the original “Genius.”
Despite the musical failure of the last track, this collaborative album overall sharply contrasts the majority of mindless mainstream music. It creates a contemplative mood, but not a party one, despite being slightly upbeat. While the album is a bit much to put on repeat, it definitely merits a listen.