Reviewing old pop is weird. It is to assess something that, a lot of the time, is crafted with a shelf-life; designed to be fit-for-purpose at the time, hopefully, reach a few million streams and never to be listened to again. And, though ‘LSD’ doesn’t feel like it was made to have a short life-span, it ends up being both inconsequential and weirdly anachronistic. The curious brain-child of three artists that have all been forerunners of pop at some point in their careers, Labrinth, Sia, and Diplo release ‘LSD’; a ten-track debut that comprises half of the new tunes, and half of last year’s summer bops.
‘Thunderclouds’ and ‘Genius’ are the most popular of 2018’s releases from the album, and both hold up as solid as they were upon release. The latter track really benefits from the quasi-romantic chemistry Labrinth and Sia’s voices share throughout; something which is carried into the newer songs like ‘No New Friends’. “You’re the queen/ You’re the king”, the two respectively sing to each other, evoking a genuinely impressive tension over the microphone.
‘Heaven Can Wait’ is the most interesting track, closest to the psychedelia a title like LSD teases. Borrowing simultaneously operatic and R&B features, it draws heavily on Diplo’s electronic style throughout. This is contrasted sharply to subsequent ‘It’s Time’; ultimately a token ballad and obligatory cooldown, just as ‘Mountains’ is. This is wasted track-space for an already short album, and as a result all the more noticeable; particularly when opener ‘Welcome to the Wonderful World of’ is merely perfunctory intro, and album closer – a Lil’ Wayne remix of Genius – is both lazily produced and plain bad.
‘LSD’ draws expectations of something phenomenal. What results is just fine. It possesses very little charm, though at some points is actually interesting, and it is at least never unpleasant to listen to. The decision to release this almost a year on from its lead singles is honestly confusing, and this album would have benefitted from debuting back in the Summer of 2018. The taste that is left in my mouth is cheap – as though ‘LSD’ was a final cash-in on a passion project now the creative juices have been exhausted. A passion project that, in the end, is pretty vanilla.