Hailing from Jamestown, NY, Cold Lazarus is a fusion four-piece that melds funk, psychedelic rock, reggae and soul with indie-style vocals and introspective lyrics. With three releases now in their discography, the band is established in their sound and aesthetic. Their albums all have a great flow, and in the past offered consistency with each song. While this is the case as a whole with the new release, Colors and Lights, there are a lot of new ideas presented that break the band away from their regular brand of psychedelic jam-rock. This new release brings a lot of composition and arrangement without compromising on the live feeling Cold Lazarus emulates so well. Cold Lazarus is unconventional in their songwriting, and unrelenting in their audacity to make something distinct.
The opening track on the album, “A Dream Serene” sends the listener straight into space with a multi-dimensional ambient piece with a heavy emphasis on vocals. The harmonies are tight and varied, and offer a real pallet cleaner to usher in the titular track “Colors and Lights.” The low-fi funk opening leaves room for the song to build, as the band expands the production and enters the realm of hi-fi. The composition is very unique to Cold Lazarus- as opposed to each member holding big chords, the group has each person playing one or two notes that create a moving chord progression more similar to classical funk, and even classical music at that. The drums are agile with fills, fresh and diversified between phrases. The keys and guitar find themselves in conversations atop a steady and arresting bass line.
There are some really fun tunes on this album. “Don’t Hide” is a great illustration of how the band can combine extended jams with compact choruses. While the song can meander into new spaces and ideas, there is always a return to home base. Something the band has that sets them in a league of their own are their longer jams that incorporate motifs and themes. The meat of the song is the organic performances in these live-feeling jams, but the potatoes are certainly the choruses. The characteristic harmonies that play off each other give these choruses more muscle and tension.
Between songs you will find interesting electronic-inspired breaks. “Trepidation” and “Dimension Ascension” highlight an entirely new aspect of the band’s abilities. Making use of 606’s and glitchy drum beats, these sketches add more variety to the album than past projects.
Cold Lazarus has certainly accomplished their goal in creating an adventurous psychedelic rock album that doesn’t place itself solely in the realm of one genre. The talent of the band absolutely shines through in different ways in each of the songs. While some of these songs last upwards of 10 minutes, they never become tedious. Interesting composition and tight production work together to construct something that keeps the listener engaged and excited to see what the next turn brings.
Key Tracks: Don’t Hide, Spiral Sea Unending, Colors and Lights