When The Jesus and Mary Chain began exploring the hypnotic effects of blending distorted guitar noise and pop songs with a bratty attitude back in the 80’s, they did more than just invent a whole new sound. They invented a whole new approach to life. Their music saluted the urgency of life and bashed boredom. You could sense the sour smell of well-worn leather jackets as unkept hair was carelessly swept away from eyes hidden behind black sunglasses. There was an element of danger attached to their music every time they put their foot to the pedal. When they sang about making love on the edge of a knife, you believed them.
While perpetuating that same sense of rock ‘n roll mystique might be difficult in today’s transparent society, the legacy of fuzzed out noise pop is still alive and well. Finnish modern rock revivalists Black Lizard are just one of these bands that are continuing the tradition of obtrusively experimenting with soundscapes and sonic effects.
On their self titled debut album Black Lizard tirelessly and successfully search for the perfect parts of 1970’s psychedelia all the way to the backlit post-punk era of the 80’s. They’re not trying reinvent the wheel and if you try to pick them apart, then you risk ruining the moment. Their marred pop songs are drenched in feedback and psych rock nostalgia, placed under a soothingly smouldering vail of unbridled sound effects. The album also has some impressive fingerprints on it, considering that it was recorded with The Brian Jonestown Massacre‘s own Anton Newcombe.
The Helsinki based quartet continuously rub shoulders with the likes of JAMC and Spacemen Three, despite their proclamation that “Our music is not trying to fit into any certain genre”. It’s even harder to believe them when they reveal that they “make music without mathematics or accurate calculations”. Their flawless sound doesn’t seem to be the result of an accident but rather a clear sense of style and a love for effect pedals.
However stylistically coherent their sound, it’s their dogmatic reliance on the power of distorted guitars and dragging their songs through the sewers that make you want them to throw away the rule book. Following in the footsteps of your peers can only get you so far.
It will be interesting to see where Black Lizard can go when they set out on their own path. This is not the kind of band you want to see holding back. You want to see them out there on the highway, in black sunglasses and well-worn leather jackets, going 100 miles an hour on the highway. Not stuck in traffic stopping at red lights and adjusting the rearview mirror.