Words by Carly Gibbs
Forged from the dry, cracked earth and scathing, hot sun of Arizona, Lazer Beam was born, the solo project of multi-instrumentalist Lucust French.
Having previously formed Burn Thee Insects with his father Mitch back in 2015, Lucust now delivers his own original desert pop project with the same level of ingenuity and integrity. Inspired by the history of stoner rock and influenced by heavyweights such as Queens of The Stone Age, Devo, Royal Blood and Arctic Monkeys his sound is one that is dictated by his landscape and punctuated with stories of his own personal experiences and challenges.
The self-titled debut opens with Sink or Swim and you are washed with those heavy desert vibes. You could quite literally sink into the dark, palpable fuzziness and swim back to the surface, buoyed by the high atmospheric guitar riffs that French so deftly performs. You can hear his influences in the vocals but it is still very much peppered with his own unique flair. This was the first track to be released from the album and was also accompanied by a film clip which you can watch below.
In the Moonlight takes a little quick weekend getaway to Seattle and brings back some grungey/indie souvenirs to add to the repertoire. It conjures memories of the early 90’s and is hooky and light and very danceable.
The desert blues is back on Don’t Tell and there is a sparseness and stomp that I really enjoy here. The transition between verse and chorus is very QOTSA, injecting the chorus with a burst of energy and then dropping the tempo once again for the verse. Lazer Beam chose to record a good bunch of the tracks outside in places like the heart of Prescott National Forest and East Maricopa County with nothing but a generator and the talent of his close friend and producer Chris Hughes (Burn Thee Insects, KOOK, Phantom Hound). At the end of the track, you can hear French say “How ‘bout that?” followed by a cheeky laugh and I imagine the pair alone, deep in the forest, high vibing on what they are creating together.
It’s the Itty Bitty Gritty Committee here with Sno Burn adding some welcomed grittiness to the album. The vocals are aren’t as clean and have a little more venom to them than the others so far which is right up my alley. It’s kind of like the cover art, brutally beautiful.
It seems that You Drive me Crazy follows in this vein as it again, has that darker feel, even a little industrial. Take Me Home has indie stamped all over it. I can hear the Arctic Monkeys and Royal Blood influence and is even kind of Zeppelin-esque in parts. It is described as “a raucous and raging boy-meets-girl tale” and was captured at FiveThirteen Recording in Tempe, with Lucust playing practically every instrument you hear and is very catchy.
Next is Damn the Reptiles and I feel that this is one of the most divergent and unique tracks on the album, one of the reasons why it is a favourite for me. The stoner scuzziness and overall tone of the track hits home. This is also echoed in Silver.
Adam & Eve closes out the album and follows the last two tracks in its heaviness. Even though the vocals are still light at times there is an intensity that isn’t present on some of the earlier tracks. The beginning of the album feels lighter than the back end and there seems to be more depth in the later tracks. Could it be viewed as an evolution of the artist, perhaps? Maybe. Maybe not. Either way, it’s an engaging listening journey throughout, one that I will be taking again many times in the future.
‘Lazer Beam’ is a fantastic example of what a debut album should be. It’s undulating in its delivery and even with its differing influences it still stays true to Lazer Beams core sound, keeping it cohesive and enjoyable throughout. It’s definitely worth a listen. ‘Lazer Beam’ is out now and was released Friday the 9th of April, 2021.
Follow Lazer Beam on socials:
With thanks to LCF Records + Sheltered Life PR