Lawrence Arabia

He was once a touring member of Okkervil River, he wrote the score for cult flick Eagle Vs Shark and this is his UK debut album.

New Zealand’s James Milne – aka Lawrence Arabia – graces these shores with the blissful ‘Chant Darling’.

Lead single ‘The Beautiful Young Crew’ sounds like something you would have heard on John Lennon’s ‘Plastic Ono Band’, Arabia

and this nod to the legendary Beatle continues throughout the entire album. Hints of folk psychedelia play strong in opening tracks such as

‘The Undesirables’ and the heartening, melodious ‘Apple Pie Bed’. This does, however,

give a feel of a man just trying to re-create an obvious ideal, and leaves you with one burning question:

Why would I buy this over one of the all-time greats? That said, his compositions do leave you with an annoying hum.

Californians have a knack of putting an accessible spin on elements traditionally labelled ‘experimental’ or just ‘unlistenable’.

With ‘Get Color’, they’ve ditched the cuddly neon hoodies look and shuffled further towards the double-doors marked ‘danceable and tuneful’.

This has proved to be no bad thing as, far from cramping their manic energy, the focusing of their material and the showing of more restraint has served to bring their moments of unhinged aggression into sharper relief,

creating a cinematic album of incredible highs and lows. Drawing from dream-pop, industrial and hardcore influences,

the band also have a mathrock-ish way with time signatures and drum patterns, abrupt gear changes managing to feel both wholly unpredictable and organic. ‘Severin’, for example,

opens with the kind of brain-drilling that soundtracks Descent Into Madness scenes in Christian anti-drug flicks before dropping serenely into a hook-heavy sing-along, punctuated with monolithic halftime stabs.

Many of the record’s standouts, the closer ‘In Violet’, the dirge-like lead single ‘Die Slow’ and ‘We Are Water’ are of a poppier slant but what is really impressive is how these disjointed,

individual masterpieces are brought together to resemble something sculpted and beautiful.

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