Eponymous albums tend to be debut offerings from new bands. Quite why so many new acts choose to do this is baffling though. Maybe it’s used as a marketing ploy, to double up on the band name rather than dilute their appearance by naming the album something easily forgettable. Or perhaps the majority of such cases show a humble side, one where they don’t view themselves as having much longevity. More than likely though, it’s that the band have honed in on their sound and it’s a statement, a heralding of who they are.
Occasionally, it isn’t the debut at all that warrants the usage; Yorkshire’s Embrace, for example, went down this route rather belatedly last year with their sixth effort and fellow Northerners, Carlisle quartet The Lucid Dream have chosen to do so for their second long player, the follow-up to 2013’s Songs Of Lies And Deceit. And from the outset, this eponymous effort unequivocally falls into the latter category.
Opening an album – be it a debut, a follow-up or a latest instalment in a catalogue of many – with an eight minute instrumental is either insane or ballsy but that’s exactly the case with curtain raiser Mona Lisa. Once fully under way the behemoth of scrawling guitars, pummelling drums and reverb touches sway and swirl this way and that for what seems like forever, but hit on a tasty jam and the length of the track seems irrelevant, a classic example being – at twice the length of Mona Lisa – The Dandy Warhols’ It’s A Fast Driving Rave-Up.
The only downside with Mona Lisa is in fact on the track placement within the context of the album. With such a lengthy number embedding itself inside the head, it surely can only be appreciated as a closing track; instead, its impact is such that it’s still lingering well into the second track, Cold Killer which is blasphemy. Released as a single, this cut is easily one of The Lucid Dream’s biggest assets, a thunderous, doomy sounding track where, not least vocally, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club are recalled in all their majesty for a magnificent reverb soaked cacophony.
Another single, Moonstruck, is another massive highlight: racing straight out the starting blocks, an undulating synth and crashing cymbals create the tempo alongside rapid vocals for an infectiously addictive effort. The Darkest Day/Head Music is sandwiched between the two singles and slows the pace in a foreboding manner before building into a humdinger of a conclusion, creating more psychedelic mastery.
The third single present, Unchained, is more curious, a stop-start effort that lurches from quieter, tambourine and bouncing bass passages to full-on drone with staccato synths; Unchained Dub, however, is at best a b-side, its unexciting instrumental presence offering little. Morning Breeze is another mind-melting cacophonous thundering of swirling fuzz before album closer You And I attempts something a little different, nodding firmly towards late ’50s early ’60s pop with a well-trodden chord sequence before gradually sinking into another pit of feedback.
The band have said that they accept the psychedelic labelling given to them by music critics, but that there is so much more to them. That’s undeniable, but when you’re soaking your music in layers of reverb in the style of The Jesus And Mary Chain then it’s a fair cop – that and the fact that they’re the only band to play all three Liverpool Psych Fests. There’s little doubting their talent and potential, but they could use some guidance, that’s for sure. Stick Mona Lisa at the end and the effect will be doubled, as the jam would linger way after the end of the album without obscuring the rest of the material; it’s not even as if they haven’t done this before, with the nine-minute Sweet Hold On Me concluding the debut. Once these creases are ironed out, there’s nothing stopping these boys from sticking around for some time to come.