It seems that in the end, pop stars will always just be pop stars. Or at least that’s what Labrinth, Sia and Diplo have lead everyone to believe on their new collaborative effort, LSD.
Per a recommendation from his publicist, Diplo, the ever-prolific producer and mastermind behind the dance music act Major Lazer, agreed to work with Labrinth and Sia in early 2018. He called the duo “two of the craziest, most creative people I ever met in my life” in a 2018 Complex article.
The group just released its first full-length album last Friday, April 12, and fans have already fallen for their masquerade of generic, hook-based pop songs under the guise of what might’ve been a groovy psychedelic record like something by Temples or The Babe Rainbow.
It’s a cute coincidence that their names create the acronym LSD, and the very “Magical Mystery Tour” cover art is just as enticing, but you can’t judge a book by its cover. While the album may feature more vibrant and sunny mixing than what is found on most other albums by L, S or D, it still just comes across as stereotypical escapist millennial pop like Shawn Mendes and Maroon 5, which most college students are quickly disowning for indie artists like Mac DeMarco and Crumb.
There are a few good things that come from the conceptual nature of the album; most of the attempts to be somewhat psychedelic are carried out with playful chemistry among the three pop giants.
The opening track, “Welcome to the Wonderful World Of” lulls listeners into a false sense of security by incorporating a chaotic blend of genres, such as spoken word, EDM and a capella. After a long mess of anthemic harmonies from Sia and Labrinth, an outward-reaching guitar solo pummels the mix with nostalgic emotion while Sia is heard squealing “I’m here on Venus,” as if it were a sample from a copy of the Care Bears’ greatest hits.
From here, things go downhill.
The album’s lead single, “Genius,” is the most obnoxious piece of trite garbage to come from any of these artists, bar none. To accompany the confusing and unrelatable themes — Sia sings “only a genius could love a woman like she” —- the chorus alone is enough to make listeners twitch like Herbert Lom’s Commissioner Dreyfus. “Ge-ge-ge-ge-ge-ge-genius,” Sia and Labrinth chant over an unoriginal descending bassline.
While the chorus is hard to swallow, Sia’s verse might be the most nagging section of the track. “You'll be my Einstein, my Newton, my Galileo, and my Hawking/Boy, put that pep in my step,” she whines like a ditz who is so dumb she can’t even form words properly. It’s the same repetitive, lowest-common-denominator drivel that everyone has grown sick of for the last 10 years. The further popular music gets from artists like Avril Lavigne, the better.
There are some other slightly redeeming tracks on the record, including “No New Friends,” which takes just advantage of a surprisingly fun chorus for a song of that title. Although the chorus is just a sequence of “la’s,” the catchiness of this hook doesn’t leave the mind, even for the last few tracks, which are tolerable at best.
LSD is an anomaly. Despite each of the collaborators’ popularity and individuality, their colors seem to mix together to make a sonic brown. If the most influential pop artists of the last 10 years all came together for one gigantic collaborative effort, odds are it would find the same pitfalls as LSD.
Psychedelic music is hip again thanks to artists like the Allah-Lahs and Goat, but watching pop artists like LSD mine the popularity of these innovators is borderline sacreligious. While the rap sphere has captured the world with collaborations like Brockhampton and Kids See Ghosts, the pop landscape is becoming filled with head-scratchers like LSD, leading to “pop” becoming less and less popular. The playing field is becoming more level for any underground scene that resonates with this generation the most.