LSD’s inaugural and eponymous album finally dropped on Friday, April 12 after the group pushed it back from the original release date of Nov. 8. Because of this I was expecting awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping new beats and a bountiful well of new music to listen to until the summer’s inevitable slew of bouncy pop starts coming at us. While the new stuff we got off the album was great, five out of the album’s nine songs were previously released as singles, and the final track is a remix; I can’t say I wasn’t disappointed.
If you don’t already know of this newly-formed supergroup, it started in early 2018 and consists of Labrinth, Sia and Diplo, three incredibly unique artists who should have started making music together years ago judging by what they’ve created over the past few months. Labrinth and Sia later recruited Diplo, who seemed to add the meaty beats they were looking for.
The first single they dropped on May 3, 2018, “Genius,” positively slaps. This song, aptly described by Rolling Stone as “a distinctly Diplo pop-synth drop,” is rife with booming bass, and Sia’s pleasantly piercing vocals float above it all, gritty as it gets.
It references geniuses throughout history (looking at you, Stephen Hawking) and seems to imagine itself in that same ranking. This song fits well into the newly accepted genre of pop with a twist, reminiscent of what Travis Scott is doing with his pop-influenced trap. While LSD clearly leans more toward the former, their soulful R&B and EDM influences place it definitively in this new variety.
With a first release as strong as this, of course we were excited all through the year by the singles they kept releasing. “Audio” and “Thunderclouds” followed fairly closely after “Genius,” surprising us with their rapid releases. When Sia told Rolling Stone to expect a full-length album from LSD, we couldn’t help but get excited.
“Thunderclouds” became the most successful of the single releases and included a trippy music video with Labrinth riding a familiar-feeling magic bus through the clouds (Beatles reference, anyone?) and Sia’s favorite little dancer Maddie Ziegler dancing through it all. It is less intense-sounding than “Genius,” with the group opting for an airier sound and not featuring the same tight strings and booming bass.
I would be amiss not to mention the sick graphics on the album cover and the cover of each single; this is all part of the trippy, dripping feeling you’re intended to get.
Now back to the album. I would be amiss if I didn’t talk about the album’s killer opener, “Welcome to the Wonderful World Of.” This song, beginning with the lyrics, “All eyes on we / Let’s run down streams of ecstasy,” is the perfect beginning to the trip this group has planned for the listener. They introduce exactly what we’re to expect from the rest of the album: resounding, long chords followed by a drop to get us moving.
This album seems heavily inspired by grooving Caribbean dance beats and EDM, combined with the unique pop sounds we know from Sia’s previous work, to create a sound that is, honestly, refreshing.
A theme that seems to resonate throughout these tracks is love, and we feel it prominently in “Heaven Can Wait,” a song that grooves just like the rest but also reminds the listener about the darkness that can lurk in one’s life and the choice to live through it all. This is my favorite of the new songs, though I wasn’t given too much to choose from.
Given that Sia has had her own personal struggles with drug addiction and alcoholism, this feels especially resonant. Lyrics like “Oh, dark spirits runnin’ through me like a drive-through / Bumpin’ my music everybody gettin’ high to” seem to give a mixed message, but as the song goes on and exclaims the need to live and love and make it through life, we get what the group were going for.
Another new song from the album that strikes a chord is, “It’s Time.” What album would be complete without a ballad? Sia’s impressive lyricism and Labrinth’s soft vocals blend well.
I actually found myself surprised at how well Labrinth did with this slower, softer material. While the deeper Diplo-beats seem to be missing, it is a welcome shift in the album. The track focuses more on a nearly naked piano track and the incredible vocals coming together to make the listener remember that this album isn’t just for us to throw on during a workout; it’s a well-thought-out, curated album with a purpose.
Despite all of this positivity, I do have some serious qualms with the album. With the release date pushed back five months, I was expecting some mind-boggling new tracks. While what we did get was great and in the exact vein I needed it to be in, I still found myself disappointed. With only three genuinely new tracks, I felt a bit like I’d been led on. The album is short to begin with, and the entire middle part of the trip is songs we’ve already heard.
The release of “No New Friends” in March was, in my opinion, too much. A full album release should include more new songs than old, and releasing yet another single just a month before the full release felt like an attention-grab, a struggle to keep interest. While the song is good, it doesn’t live up to the rest of the singles or the other songs on the full album itself.
So would I recommend this album? Yes, of course, but I would recommend it more certainly to those who haven’t heard any of LSD’s music yet (though they are likely far and few between) and can experience the album straight through (which is, in my opinion, the way they intended us to listen to it). Listening through an album is hard when we’ve been hearing the middle tracks for months already.