Lokbrá – Army of Soundwaves

Lokbrá
Army of Soundwaves

I’m not old enough to be able to speak on the “Golden Age” of rock music with any type of credibility. From what those of appropriate age have to say, the dinosaurian creature known as “rock ‘n roll” has been extinct for some time; all my generation can do is examine the fossils and figure out how the valiant being met its end. For some time, I’ve approached this appraisal – basically a harsh critique of contemporary rock, much of which I hold dear to my heart – with requisite opposition, marking the naysayers of current music as ignorant traditionalists, too stuck in an era past to have a valid opinion on present-day happenings. But now I’m not so sure they’re completely wrong. That singular term – rock ‘n roll – and those who helped originally define it once embodied a fierce independence (I’m sure that Iggy Pop’s defunct consciousness is violently tossing in its grave while his physical being collaborates with Green Day), but anymore it’s abused and adulterated for its style and social merit. The later brings me to Lokbrá and Army of Soundwaves.

Arrogance, misogyny, hedonism, and naïveté – essentially and unfortunately what “rock ‘n roll” is viewed as nowadays – permeate the lyrics on Army of Soundwaves to corrupt the creations with a definite bad taste and dilute nearly any positives to be found in the messages. I’ve heard all too many poorly-written songs, whether their shortcomings be juvenile subject matter, poor transitional elements, or clumsy diction, but few have driven me to the Next Track button as quickly as “The Kings of the Night,” sixth song on the album. “We had a rockstar party, with astronauts and hip hop ho’s / My head is spinning like million, got a hundred up my nose” commences the second verse, and then the following chorus consummates an obviously smashing party with “Rock ‘n roll, bitches and alcohol.” Such crude outbursts perform only to assert the band as a gang of gluttonous neanderthals. Embarrassing lines flourish on the album: all of “The Kings of the Night,” “Stop the Music” (“If you like rock and roll, we might save your soul”), “Ride the Walrus” (“I have the right to be violent / So please be silent while I whoop your ass”), and “Lucky Luke in the Sky” (“I’m all alone on the phone in a zone”) serve as fitting examples, but exhaustive pursuit isn’t necessary to find many, many more.

To their credit, most everything besides lyrical content in Army of Soundwaves is rather enjoyable. Taking cues from 70’s classic rock, the group hits high points as they indulge in wonderful jams complete with provocative guitar work and organs that send the listener back a few decades to the aforementioned Golden Age. The drumming is versatile, making transitions from subdued work to high hat-heavy dance beats effortlessly. “Ride the Walrus,” which sounds like a cousin to an Elephant 6 track in the chorus, showcases a playful, spirited bass. Closer “Nosirrah Egroeg,” refreshingly sung in Icelandic, is a psyched-out adventure soaked in Indian influence. Hazy female vocals (though no Björk) make “Óskasteinar” an interesting affair. The pleasing elements of such songs exemplify the fact that this album would have been much easier to appreciate were it not for the bogus machoism that seems to litter the songwriter’s mind. With that said, even the greatest frosting can’t alter a cake made from rotten ingredients into a confectionery masterpiece. As bands like Lokbrá perpetuate adverse stereotypes, I feel stranded, desperately attempting to convince others (and oftentimes myself) that music really isn’t as far gone as critics make it out out be.