Lo-Fidelity Allstars - Don’t Be Afraid Of Love
or better or worse, we here at Stylus, in all of our autocratic consumer-crit greed, are slaves to timeliness. A record over six months old is often discarded, deemed too old for publication, a relic in the internet age. That's why each week at Stylus, one writer takes a look at an album with the benefit of time. Whether it has been unjustly ignored, unfairly lauded, or misunderstood in some fundamental way, we aim with On Second Thought to provide a fresh look at albums that need it.
About six months ago, my colleague Nick Southall shed some light on one of my favorite albums of all time in this very segment of Stylus. It was a largely underappreciated album, made by a ramshackle groups of English chaps, and it was called How to Operate With a Blown Mind . I would continue to express the depth and breadth of my love for this album, but Nick hit it right on the head and I would only be regurgitating. Suffice to say, Mr. Southall compared the album to the more recent disco-punk trend and remarked that it may have been the greatest album in that vein of music.
Something happened to the Lo-Fi Allstars after that album, however. The band went from seven members to five, losing front man “The Wrekked Train” in the process. In their four year absence after Blown Mind, the big beat movement they had been lumped in with had faded considerably. Where other big beat artists like Fatboy Slim and Moby slipped into irrelevance or self-parody, however, the Lo-Fi Allstars decided to evolve their sound. Their terrible monikers and gruff vocalist lost, they decided to turn their efforts to sunnier and more optimistic bangers (starting with their great Ghostmutt EP).
With their dark and looming façade lifted, the Lo-Fi Allstars came into their new sound full of a freshness that is usually reserved for the cleansing moisture on grass after a rainstorm. They came at us with different tricks on every track, while still keeping the large beats and electronic screeches that kept their sound unified. This was a band rinsed of their gloom and uninhibited by darkness. This is a band that was ready to have some fun.
Every member of the band got their shot to lead at least one song with their filtered and vocodered signing voice. And when they felt the need to pass off the mic, they found the likes of Jamie Lidell (“Deep Ellum…Hold On”), Afghan Whig Greg Dulli (“Somebody Wants You”), and Bootsy Collins (“On The Pier”) to steady the ship. You get the feeling that this album was created through a hot summer while the quintet was just hanging out and having fun, with a few friends dropping by to share their talents for a short time, making music that would make them clap their hands and shake their asses (just as Dulli commands on “Somebody Wants You”). Even the slower and mellower tracks like the title track, “On The Pier,” and “Just Enough” (the only track from Ghostmutt to make the album) feel like an introverted reflection of serenity in the face of a time of hedonism and throwing caution to the wind. And they also come at the perfect time (the middle of the record) to rejuvenate our inner party animal, which will be tickled into ecstasy by the following three tracks (“Cattleprod,” “Tied To The Mast,” and “Sleeping Faster”).
The boys wrap the album with a lengthy-yet-leisurely groove entitled “Dark Is Easy.” The song itself is like the perfect ending to that brilliant journey of reckless abandon that Don’t Be Afraid Of Love has taken us on. But the most telling thing about the track is the title itself. Playing it dark and depressed and filthy is easy, they were just putting us on for their entire previous album. The light isn’t the contrast to the dark, the light has always been there.
Don’t Be Afraid Of Love barely even made a blip on the radar screen of the music industry (“Sleeping Faster” did find its way to #3 on the US Billboard Dance charts for a week or so). And when (or should I say, if) people talk about the Lo-Fi Allstars, they don’t talk about Don’t Be Afraid…, they talk about Blown Mind. It’s been another four years since these five Brighton boys released this album, but there is no sign of anything new on the horizon. There is no hype surrounding them, and there probably never was. Some people enjoy having a band that they can call their own, that isn’t a product of a PR firm. For the longest time, that’s how I felt about the Lo-Fidelity Allstars. But after revisiting both of their albums, and especially this oft-forgotten sophomore album, I’ve realized that they are just too wonderful not to share with the rest of the world. Or at least share with those that will listen.
By: Matt Sheardown
Published on: 2006-01-24