For some or other reason Les Big Byrd’s Facebook page cover photo is of a bespectacled person, a he/she/it/them situation, with the words ‘Fuck Off’ printed on the lenses. You can hardly miss the message.
Now the last time an artist did anything like that which I experienced it was the British rapper Slowthai, “performing” for the want of the better word at the Øya Festival in Oslo in 2019 and he made a meal of it, effing and jeffing his way through his entire ‘set’ like he’d just learned his first curse in the playground and was keen to share it with his playmates.
As a result I and most of the crowd fucked off and left him singing to himself.
So together with the fact that I’m not usually attracted to artists or bands with weird names, especially those that might be an obscure reference to an arcane 1980’s US TV puppet show, you might understand why I considered giving this one a miss.
But I gave LBB the benefit of the doubt and I’m glad I did because it’s an impressive piece that really motors along.
A brief history first.
They formed in Stockholm as a duo in 2011 by Joakim Åhlund and Frans Johansson, two stalwarts of the Swedish underground music scene with roots in indie rock scene, then adding keyboardist Martin “Konie” Ehrencrona (now Christian Olsson) and drummer Nino Keller.
They played a style of melodic indie rock with psychedelic influences on their 2014 debut album ‘They Worshipped Cats’, while 2018’s ‘Iran Iraq Ikea’ saw them introduce more synths, krautrock and ‘arena/stadium indie’ to their sound.
According to Åhlund that album was about “aging and feeling like you’ve pissed away life.” Tell me about it.
They’ve released a single since, ‘Mannen utanför’ (The Man Outside) and a third album, ‘Eternal Light Brigade’.
‘I’m living a saved life now’ – which almost suggests they’ve retired but they definitely haven’t – is out now digitally and will be released on limited edition 7″ vinyl on September 29th via Chimp Limbs, which will feature on their forthcoming fourth full-length album.
You know, as a non-musician these days I’m always keen to improve my understanding of musical terminology and only this afternoon I was reading about chord progression theory and how many pop songs are based around just four chords.
Low and behold, along comes this song, which builds around the same four chords, enhanced by the application of ostinato (a musical phrase, melody or rhythm that is repeated persistently). In this instance it’s all of them.
It starts off in a similar manner to ‘Tubular Bells’ but picks up the pace and develops the atmosphere far more quickly than Oldfield’s piece and soon takes on the mantle of a Michael Mann-like film score at a runaway pace.
I chose Mann deliberately for the comparison because, together with the song’s title it put me very much in mind of the Mann-directed ‘Manhunter’, the film that introduced the character Hannibal Lecter.
If you’ve seen the film you’ll recall the brilliant scene where the detective Will Graham, who’s been brought out of retirement to hunt down the serial killer known as the Tooth Fairy because he has the ability to ‘think’ like one (he’s a passive psychopath) realises how to identify the killer while he’s watching the victims’ home movies.
That ‘connection’ is made to a section of a supremely apt piece of music, Iron Butterfly’s ‘In a gadda da vida.’
I’ve said all that just to make the point that much of ‘I’m living a saved life now’ would have served the purpose equally well.
I can’t say fairer than that.
Can and do they reproduce this level of power and precision live? You’ve just missed them at Gothenburg’s Way Out West festival but you can catch them here:
August 25th – Stockholm, Sweden – Skå Festplats
August 26th – Karlstad, Sweden – Nöjesfabriken
Find them on: