I have to admit that for quite a while I was rather agnostic about Lorelle Meets The Obsolete, I didn’t really see what the fuss was all about, while the likes of Henry Rollins raving about them. Then I saw the Mexican duo perform that the Liverpool Psych Fest a few years ago and, like so often is the case, I really ‘got them’. There was a power to their performance that day that had me scurrying back to their records to listen to them afresh.
Since then the band have released a well-received album in ‘Chambers’ (2014), and now are putting out their fourth album for Captcha Records (Sonic Cathedral over here in the UK), the first track from which has just been released.
The new album, entitled ‘Balance’, is not an untypical Lorelle Meets The Obsolete release in that it initially sounds like a pretty run of the mill/ middle of the road psych album. Then as you begin to explore it with a more critical ear you start picking up the depth of what is going on here.
The opening, title, track is a good example of this beginning as it does with some low key acoustic guitar and a dominant Gary Numan like synth riff, falling ever so gently into a lovely vocal melody. Behind and between this, however, is some harsh psych guitar and more than a hint of darkness. It is a track that it well named, from an album that is well named because there is a balance here; and what makes it a really good album are the tensions and forces that pull it into that balance.
‘It Must Be The Only Way’ is another case in point with Lorena Quintanilla’s (Lorelle) lush vocals (here reminding me of Tess Parks) acting in sharp contrast with Alberto Gonzalez’s (The Obsolete) brash and occasionally chaotic guitar which combines rock and sixties pop elements very well. This is something that is carried out well throughout the album, notably third track ‘Ching’
Things start getting a bit different with ‘The Sound of All Things’ which, at over six minutes, is a relatively long track for this band. With over three minutes of synths at the beginning it feels initial more like a space rock sound, something that increases as the motorik beat kicks in. Then, when Lorelle’s vocal finally emerges, the track takes off in a way that gives the whole sound a lush abundance before settling back into the earlier coda. A beautiful and atmospheric centrepiece to the album.
Elsewhere ‘Waves Over Shadows’ has a similar vibe to the first Jacco Gardner album, with a nice mixture of Syd Barrett acid-soaked baroque and sixties West Coast mellifluence; while ‘La Distincion’ it a more upbeat guitar lead track with lots of lively wahwah to keep it going.
Another reason I like this record is that despite the fact that there is a good variety to the tracks, with ‘Father’s Tears’ being a slower and deeply emotional number with Lorelle sounding more like Laura Viers in her vocals…a very spare and minimal track that really works well in the context of this album. ‘Waves Under Shadows’ reminded me of The Holydrug Couple with it’s soft vocals and dreamy music, while ‘Eco Echo’ is a track initially in a similar vein, but perhaps with more going on in the middle third as the sound gets more chaotic and begins to disintegrate.
All in all this is an album that will please existing Lorelle Meets The Obsolete fans no end and, hopefully, will win over new ones. It is an album that feels nicely poised between a fine-tuned in pop sensibility set above some opaque soundscapes, with more than a little amount of experimentalism in the background. This makes it an album that is accessible and warm yet also challenging.
Balance was recorded by the band in their studio in Ensenada, Mexico. Cooper Crain (Cave, Bitchin Bajas) mixed the record at MINBAL Studios in Chicago and it was mastered by Mikey Young (Total Control/Eddy Current Suppression Ring). Daniel Castrejôn (Umor Rex) is responsible for the layout and design of the albums’ packaging.