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An Albatross - We Are The Lazer Viking

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Artist: An Albatross

Album: We Are The Lazer Viking

Label: Ace Fu

Review date: Dec. 11, 2003

The term "spock rock" is hated by many, including the majority of the contributing artists, but An Albatross have adopted the genre’s every characteristic and seem quite proud of it. They’ve got sci-fi infected keyboards. They’ve got spastic rhythms. They’re a walking stereotype. The band puts forth more effort in 10 minutes than most do in a five-minute song, but, in the end, is such effort worthwhile?

It’s hard to really hate a 50 second song. This is quite possibly the most relevant statement in terms of An Albatross’s We Are The Lazer Viking. The band eschews the more macabre, almost gothic moments caught on Eat Thunder Shit Lightning to deliver a less abrasive, cleaner sound, while emphasizing structure and songwriting in sub-minute chunks. The band’s decision to keep a majority of the songs on its sophomore effort under 50 seconds is unfortunate, because it sounds as if they have the necessary talent to at least breach the two-minute mark.

In an interview, Blectum from Blechdom referred to laptops as being “the next guitar”. They could have been talking about keyboards, because the plastic keys have outdistanced computers of late in regards to ubiquity, and the synth more specifically has been common in most of today’s “up-and-coming” bands (just look at the majority of sound-virus’s releases for a start). One keyboardist obviously wasn’t enough for An Albatross – they had to take two under their wing, Kat Paffett and Phillip Price. While both keyboardists show technical prowess and talent, the keyboards themselves generally come off as a gimmick, as if the band is solely relying on the multitude of synths to distinguish itself.

Lyrically, We Are the Lazer Viking doesn’t stray much from the band’s debut, in that coherency is largely absent. If you took out the lyric sheet for Eat Thunder Shit Lightning and thought to yourself, “is this haiku?”, you weren’t alone. Some of the lyrics present themselves as adolescent rants about sex and violence and capitalism, while others are successful in relaying surreal stories and characters. One gets the distinct impression from Eddie Grieda’s chaotic vocal attack that all his shrieking actually means something – veiled philosophies about western civilization and worldly politics sometimes trickle through the undecipherable screams. Jake Lisowski’s complex guitar work retains enough of a rock semblance to avoid coming off as unstructured noise.

We Are The Lazer Viking does flow rather well, keeping a fast pace between songs. There are two instrumental tracks that thankfully depart from the band’s dance grind equation and nicely piece together a fitting mood for the album. Sadly, these instrumental pieces are shorter than most of the actual songs, leaving much desired and even more questions unanswered. If An Albatross have a nack for creating fascinating instrumental pieces, why don’t they use it to lengthen their songs? Perhaps they don’t want to jeopardize their pace. Perhaps they don’t care. Taking into consideration the seriousness in their music, or lack thereof, it’s most likely the latter.

If you are looking for inspiration, this ain’t it. At its best, however, We Are The Lazer Viking is an enjoyable, redundant spin on what the Locust have been doing for decades (well, at least it feels that way). It’s a mediocre, by-the-books attempt at spock rock, but should make a nice accessory item for kids with the proper haircuts and spectacles.

By Andrew Sadowski

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