Lima Research Society- Don’t Give Up, Don’t Get Down

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Lima Research Society- Don't Give Up, Don't Get Down

With a spin of the disc, and a glance at the entrancing album art, it’s pretty apparent that Lima Research Society is placing itself inside the psychedelic pop camp, which is fine, but beware the genre is a slippery slope. To succeed is to be bestowed with “genius” and “groundbreaking” recognition, in line with The Flaming Lips, Animal Collective, and Of Montreal. But failing comes with a tremendous crash, like a commercial jet dropping from the sky onto the unforgiving earth below it. If you’re a routine pop band who fails, it’s like showing up to a dinner party in a cheap suit; you’ll draw a few glares and elicit a few snickers, but people will get it out of their systems and you can end up blending in eventually. If you’re a psychedelic band and fail, however, it’s like showing up to that same dinner party in a chicken costume; it’s a lot more uncomfortable and embarrassing, and way tougher to live down.

So LRS embarked with all of its psychedelic tricks in tow, and unveiled its new LP, Don’t Get Up, Don’t Give Up. “Rejoice, Rejoice, Rejoice” begins the album with a squeaky acoustic intro, that may raise a few eyebrows at first, before blowing up into an energetic, lo-fi chorus of screaming “Yeahs!,” then retreats to a synth-led, glossy verse. The band dials up another “Yeah” chorus, then close out like they began. “Rejoice” is wildly dynamic, and has just enough catchiness to stay with you. Hell, it may even demand repeat listens to be revealed in full. “When You Lose a Friend” attempts another round of punk-turned-glossy pop, but unlike “Rejoice”, this one feels underdeveloped, lacking a real focus. The band follows that medium rare offering with a frustrating “Our Nature is Relentless.” It’s accessible fuzz-punk, with a well constructed melody, but it seems to shed too much of its colorfulness and the dynamic flavor promised by the “Rejoice.” It’s a good song on its own, but seems out of place here. “The Boy and His Genius” finally cashes in on the hints “Rejoice” laid out. Synth-driven, it supports a quirky-catchy melody that smoothly transitions into a outro that predicates itself on a jumpy piano riff and repetition. Lima Research Society isn’t trying to make this listen an easy one, though, as indicated by “GIANT MOTH/the beauty of things.” The GIANT MOTH portion of the song is more fuzzed-out punk that wanders around nowhere, until “the beauty of things” portion swoops in and steals the song. It’s a tender piece, that has a stream of “GIANT MOTH’s” fuzz cutting through fluttering electronics and synth. “the beauty of things” would be a remarkably pretty piece of psychedelic pop, not far from something The Flaming Lips would reel off, if not for the millstone that is “GIANT MOTH.” The result is more frustration; I’m glad I was able to hear something as pretty as “the beauty of things” but it feels cheapened due the damage the first half inflicts upon itself. “Newtlife” brings back the strength of LRS, with a punchy piano line, some banjo, a pseudo-flute, well-timed jabs at the cymbal, and rich melody. It doesn’t exactly coat itself in psychedelica, but it’s effective for its eclectic source of sound and its willingness to explore multiple variations of the song in a little over 3 minutes. The album so far has been delivering a strong song, followed up with something that doesn’t fit properly. So when “Newtlife” delivered the goods, it was expected that the next song would falter somehow. “Space Station Africa” does do that, but not how you would expect. “Space Station Africa” is unequivocally the very best song on this album. Transcending the album, it’s an A+ psychedelic, dreamy voyage; it’s one of the better songs I’ve heard in 2009. But for no logical reason, it’s only 1:47. Not even 2 minutes! Perhaps it’s for the best, though. I wouldn’t be surprised if they would have attached an ugly appendage in the form of fuzzy power chords, in order to dilute such a great song. But in a perfect world, they would have let the cosmic electronics sprawl further out into space. They would have manipulated the simple but gorgeous melody into something progressively ethereal. The band’s press release say they cop influences from prog into their music, and display it on several tracks on this very album. They can prog this and prog that, but the fact that they cut off “Space Station Africa” without giving it the room that the title takes its name from, is an atrocity that I’ll hold against them forever. You’re not prog if you can’t expand on the most interesting song you’ve created. The album closes with a nice middle finger, finding time to pump out 7 minutes, when time seemed so scarce just one song ago. Regardless of my now bitter position towards LRS, the group makes a nice closer. “March Against the Mutants” pulses electro-static into a warm melody that spills out (could have used that ‘spilling out’ earlier, guys!) into a rhythmic jam of electronic beeps that jog up and down the melody, with vocals repeating the album’s title. Kudos to LRS for closing out the album with 3 really nice pieces of music and cutting out that aimless fuzz-punk it forced too much of earlier.

There’s a lot of things I want to like about Lima Research Society. I’m a sucker for the bands ballsy enough to hit the psychedelic pop trail. Their album art is incredible. The band seems devoted to making interesting, singular, melodic music. And there’s a lot to like about this album, but ultimately, it’s too frustrating and uneven to totally sink into. You might be willing to journey with LRS, but the members have far too many obstacles in the way to fully appreciate the destination. Too many fuzzy punk numbers, not liberal enough with the atmospheric potential of electronics. For when Lima and his mates read this, take my friendly advice. Build on the psychedelic electronic landscape of “Space Station Africa” provided, and don’t relapse into punk territory if it means relaxing your colorfulness. The melodies and song structures are strong, but the band needs to a better job of knowing when they have something strong and running with it. So, Lima Reseach didn’t show up to the dinner party in a razor sharp Armani suit, and  didn’t show up in the chicken suit. Rather, the group showed up in expensive shirt and tie and a nice blazer, but forgot their pants at home. There’s some good things on Lima Research Society, just put on the pants and complete the outfit, please.