26 October 2010

Lazerbeak, Legend Recognize Legend (2010): Album Review

Legend Recognize Legend is the first full-length album by Lazerbeak, otherwise known as Aaron Mader. A prominent member of the Doomtree crew—essentially, the Young Money crew of Minneapolis—the now 28 year-old recording artist has been making music since his early days of high school as a member of the band The Plastic Constellations. After joining and touring with Doomtree the past few years, Beak began working on his own record—doing everything from writing to singing to playing his own instruments. That is how Legend Recognize Legend came to be, and a mighty fine debut it is.

The album begins with a simple piano tune entitled “Dream Team,” which sounds like the lovechild of Passion Pit and Kid Cudi in a sense. And just in case you can’t tell, that is an enormous compliment. Many of the songs have that feel to them, really. “Land’s End” is eerily similar to Cudder’s new track, “Mr. Rager,” but with an even darker melody that is amplified by a melancholy string section and some electronica. “Let It Go” features a vast array of sounds—the almost-military beat of a drum, harmonic whistling, and the grand crash of cymbals at regular intervals. There are so many elements of the song, you really need to listen to it multiple times to get the full effect of it. “Bound” is a very somber tune that employs both the piano and strings to make an otherwise depressing, potentially-boring song. The genius of Lazerbeak, though, decides to add a perfect electronic dance beat to the mix that simply enhances all the other elements of the song and creates something whimsical. For “Wild Life,” Beak brings a brief flavor of Africa with some basic chanting that is, of course, enfused with rousing electronic beats. “Salt and Sea,” while not the best of the tunes, is some lighter fare—very much in the style of Matt & Kim, and brings to mind something you might hear while perusing the shelves of stores like American Eagle or Urban Outfitters. Beak shows off some raspy vocals in “Pearly Gates,” where the airy beats and deep horns give the song a floating sensation, all the while offering some thought-provoking life poetry. And who doesn’t want some quality life lessons during a song? “Cannon Falls” has an especially funky beat and a very simple hook backed by a chorus of voices repeating the words “round and round” repeatedly. As grating as it can get on the ears, it is indisputably catchy and is fun to groove to. Beak returns to his darker tones on “Tempest,” with a heavy emphasis on drums and other-worldly vocals—again, ones that would make Cudder proud. And for the final song, “Foothills,” he resorts to a simple, acoustic guitar in the beginning—building up to a soft electronic and bass-kit beat. This might be the best track on the album—although it’s a slower song, it combines all of Beak’s best elements, with not-too-shabby lyrics to boot.

Not to take a ginormous stretch here, but I wouldn’t be hesitant to call Legend Recognize Legend a near-perfect album. While I don’t know exactly what Beak was going for while creating it, he has created a very mellow, enthused record up there with the likes of Ratatat, while still adding his own unique and very trippy spin, might I add. This album is a real find, and I honestly can’t wait to hear more music from him in the future.

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