Album Review: Sam Roberts Band – ‘Lo-Fantasy’

There appears to be a trend of alternative rockers honing in a new electro sound—which we saw with Sebastien Grainger of Death from Above 1979’s recent solo album. Although SRB appeared to have been going in this direction with their last album Collider, Lo-Fantasy definitely explores some uncharted territory delivering a vibrant and experimental record of broad-spectrum sounds from pop-rock and dub-enthused mixes, to their classic shout-out choruses.
 
We can perhaps attribute this new sound and direction to the influence of so called ‘crazy genius’ Youth who is most notably known for his work with the Verve, the Orb, and his membership in The Fireman with Sir Paul McCartney. After pre-production, Lo-Fantasy was recorded live off the floor in 12 days. SRB told Rock & Roll Hotel about the long hours and sleep deprivation experienced while working with Youth, stating that they were “almost in a hallucinogenic state, like an ayahuasca journey—or so I’ve heard,” Roberts laughs. “Youth would be in the control room with his Hawaiian shirt unbuttoned, dancing and doing oil painting interpretations of the songs while we were recording, and we’re thinking, ‘My God we’ve got a madman at the helm!’”
 
The band says about the concept for the album during a reddit IamA: Ask me anything (AMA), that Lo-Fantasy comes from “a literary genre in which a world, with the same rational rules as our own, still allows for the influence of magic to play a part… Maybe the idea is that we live with our gaze focused on the details, on what is right on front of our faces and ignore the possibility of a wider reality.” The cover itself provides a sort of foreshadowing of what is to come of the album; a colorful post-modern reality, filled with shape-shifting and metallically skinned creatures, which seem to represent the veracities and conflicts we face in the human condition… See, it's deep—I told you.
 
This album truly demonstrates Robert’s song writing aptitude and his band’s versatility as they effortlessly switch from disco and 80’s style synth-focus present in “Shapeshifters,” “Human Heat,” and “Chasing the Light,” to psychedelic and dreamy tracks like “Golden Hour” and “The Hands of Love.” However, if you are looking for a glimpse of the older Sam Roberts, you can find this in “Never Enough,” and the stadium shouter single “We’re All in This Together.” This album truly has everything, and if that is not enough, the Bonus tracks on the deluxe version provide an excellent dub-style playlist to road trip or hit the slopes to.
 

'Metal Skin' by Sam Roberts Band

A notable track to check out is “Metal Skin” which through reverbed keyboard and afro-beat synth melodies speaks to the meaning of love. He states: “You can turn me on by remote control. You tell me love is just a chemical. And if this is true then I don't need you. I don't need anyone.”


Making of “We’re All In This Together” by Sam Roberts Band

 

“Shapeshifter” by Sam Roberts Band
 
Although Lo-Fantasy is quite the departure from the Sam Roberts who gave us “Brother Down” and “Don’t Walk Away Eileen,” this is the most free and sonically lush album I have heard in some time and it is worth a listen.

Lo-Fantasy is available on iTunes or for purchase as a double deluxe CD or vinyl (which includes a vinyl only bonus track) on the SRB website.
 
If you have not yet had the chance to see SRB play live, check out the released tour dates below:
 
02/21 Philadelphia, PA – World Café Live
02/22 Washington, DC – The Rock N Roll Hotel
03/01 Quebec City, Quebec – Imperial De Quebec
03/17 San Diego, CA – The Casbah
03/19 San Francisco, CA – The Chapel
03/21 Seattle, WA – Tractor Tavern
03/22 Portland, OR – Mississippi Studios
03/25 St. Paul, MN – Turf Club
03/26 Chicago, IL – Subterranean
03/28 Grand Rapids, MI – The Stache at the Intersection
04/11 Sarnia, ON – The Stubborn Mule
04/12 Hamilton, ON – Hamilton Place Studio
08/08-10 Squamish, BC – Squamish Music Festival
 
 
Jillian King
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