Relaxer – Lasers

3 out of 5

Label: Earth Quaker Devices

Produced by: Chris Koltay (engineered by)

I for sure dig Party of Helicopters multi-guitared attack; I love me some prog wankerism; I’m down with Black Mountain and their ilk who rock out 70s stoner style.  But: that which works separately may not add up to a greater whole.

Case in point would be Relaxer, or at least their 5 song, 50-minute album Lasers.  Comprised of a PoH dude, some other sludge-makers from Akron, and White Pines’ vocalist, Relaxer’s 10-minute attempted epics of slow-burn-to-guitar-freakouts aren’t a bad deal whatsoever, they just don’t seem to excel in any particularly notable fashion either.  The restraint of the hazy opening passages are appealing, and the intense interplay of guitar and drums in latter passages are nod-yer-head worthy, but, y’know, something something length isn’t everything.  The songs just seem to be stretched out just to prove their worth, when halving their length would have served their strengths just fine.

This might be why the opening one-two tracks work the best, as you get a taste of the extended format, and then the followup goes in more of a Party of Helicopters straightforward momentum format, keeping the runtime to five-ish minutes and offering some swaggery riffage.  Track three is also comparatively shorter, a tad shy of seven minutes, but it’s addition to things is a Mogwai-ish midsection that, for me, just sort of hits pause on the flow.  The remaining songs follow the slow-burn approach.

And this all sounds rather flippant, which, alas, it is, because you’ve heard stuff like this before.  Relaxer commit it with undeniable skill, but nothing quite stands out, and a flat-edged engineering job from Chris Koltay doesn’t add anything to that either.  Followup Unreal / Cities would smartly tighten things up and rock out a bit more directly.