Alba Lua – ‘The Ballad Of Joseph Merrick’ EP Review

It only takes one hint of the magical words ‘Neil Young’ to get me interested in a new release and it transpires that the comparison is at least partially accurate when it comes to this French trio. Alba Lua hail from Bordeaux and given the rate that amazing music is pouring out of France (see Abysee and Gojira for evidence of that) it’s nice to see that the indie scene is developing happily alongside the metal releases we have seen thus far.

So what of ‘the ballad of Joseph Merrick’? Well, it has elements of Neil Young; the scratchy, lo-fi opening to the track in particular, but the music has more in common with the mid-nineties indie scene, not least Spiritualized, the Delgados and the latter day outpourings of the Flaming Lips. Drenched in reverb and hazy vocals, the first track is pure psychedelic pop music of the sort that will bring the sunshine into your life on the dullest of days and it is as charming as it is melodic. ‘Sungaze’ (a wonderfully apt-title) utilises that great musical crime (namely whistling) to far better effect than one might expect and then grafts it to another nostalgic tune that introduces vintage organ sounds alongside the Rolling Stone-esque guitar lines and early Pink Floyd vocals.

‘Valley of Abra’ closes this all-too-brief EP with a gentle pop shuffle that brings to mind the Velvet Underground on their final album ‘loaded’ with its gentle hook, phased bass and dreamy vocals. It’s a fitting ending to an EP that harnesses the wilful naivety of sixties and seventies pop music and which hints at greater things to come, especially with the perfect psychedelic rock-out at the end of the track which simply serves to remind you that the band can crank up their amps when it suits them.

With the increasingly over-populated music world losing their custom to the vacuous world of I-tunes and the like, it’s a real pleasure that there are still bands out there who make EPs such as this. ‘The ballad of Joseph Merrick’ is a thing to treasure and will no doubt delight fans of obscure pop music, lo-fi indie and the sonic curveballs of the Velvet underground and Spiritualized.

‘The Ballad Of Joseph Merrick’ is out June 28th through Satelite of Love Records.

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