Damian Lazarus- Smoke the Monster Out

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Damian Lazarus- Smoke the Monster Out

Electronic dance music is a bit oblong in the pop music spectrum. On one level, it has to be crafted with the same creative prowess expected of any pop musician, in order to achieve true listenability. In doing so, you make an album that can be listened to by the purists while they sit around the house, ride in the cars, throw on the vinyl, etc. But you also have to create an album that keeps its creative identity, while still bumping and sliding like any dancesong should sound. That means making something that makes the kids at Lollapalooza collide into one another, that gets good vibes at parties and in clubs. Cut Copy and Crystal Castles made critically successful records, as well as ones that caroused around making everyone feel joyous. Most club music (including rap, but let’s stay on electronica) that you hear, is background noise that grooves along nicely in a boisterous atmosphere, but crumbles from a lack of musicianship with pure listens. If you’re a avid music listener, you probably would gladly take a great album over a great club soundtrack, if you couldn’t have both. Damian Lazarus fails at the club soundtrack, but unfortunately for the enthusiasts, he also fails at making a good record.

Smoke the Monster Out runs through retreads of familiar electronic cliches, with rigorous faux-percussion, that buzzy electronic bass, and airy hurls of keyboard. The music rarely breaks into anything interesting or engaging. It’s not bad, but it’s certainly just your typical run of the mill instrumentation. This whole album could have passed with a yawny impression, but the vocals do add some identity, though, only because they’re generally pretty awful. Damian does do a little of the classic cliche affected vocals, where everyone sounds like a cyborg, which still makes the album very generic, but the trouble comes in the ‘melodies.’ I doubt these were intended to be very catchy, as much as they were supposed to be weird, however, they come off sounding ridiculous at times. “Memory Box” is a horrific song. It’s unlistenable. The lyrics are elementary (the preferred dialect of the cyborgs), but the way they’re sung in a breathy, post-sex cadence with an over the top accent, makes it cringe worthy. “Bloop Bleep” has a similarly appalling vocal performance. The songs that are decent are the ones with vocals that get back to basics and sound totally rudimentary. The results are bland, but at least I don’t feel threatened to eject the CD on the spot. “Lullabies” is an instrumental number that catches enough atmosphere to actually be a pretty good track, which is followed with another good one, “Spinnin.'” Back to back good songs aren’t enough to salvage this album, however.

So, if you ever run across this album anywhere, I don’t encourage you to throw this on when your parents leave for the weekend and you host an ill-advised party; people won’t actually dance. And for the enthusiasts, after a listen or two, you’ll see what I mean, and you won’t want to replay it. For Smoke the Monster Out, bland instrumentation, along with forgettable/occasionally awful vocals, and dance music cliches all make for a below average album.