Sweden’s Les Big Byrd (LBB) is an up-and-coming experimental indie-rock band — with neo-psych and synth-pop sensibilities — that is rich in potential. The group’s debut album, They Worshipped Cats, has been released through Anton Newcombe’s independent imprint, A Records, following a serendipitous meeting between LBB’s Frans Johansson (ex-Fireside) and Joakim Åhlund (ex-Caesars) and Newcombe at a record store in Stockholm while the Brian Jonestown Massacre was on tour. Subsequently, the BJM frontman invited the Swedes to his recording studio in Berlin to jam; this disc is the result. A heavy Krautrock influence percolates through several of the album’s finest songs, including the tidally synth-washed opener “Indus Waves” (think Neu!). It bleeds trippily into the pleasingly pulsating second cut, “Tinnitus Ætérnum.” Newcombe himself guests on — and cowrote — both the toe-tapping, New Order–flavored “Vi Borde Prata, Men Det Är För Sent” and the alluringly ailurophilic title track. Further on, the buoyantly melodic “Just One Time” recalls early Spiritualized crossbred with Air, while the rhythmic “White Week” has a cool Kraftwerk cadence. “War in the Streets” sounds lysergic in the best vintage ‘60s fashion, while “1,2,3,4, Morte” reveals an instrumental, electronica-saturated number that chugs along to a happy end. Closing track “Back to Bagarmossen” (referencing the Stockholm ghetto from which the band hails) is melancholic, guitar-distorted indie rock at its finest. The liberal use of string machines, vocoders, and motorik drums helps make They Worshipped Cats a cross-genre gem that transcends easy labels — it’s psychedelic yet poppy, krautrocky yet danceable — but mainly it’s an abundantly adventurous, perfectly produced smorgasbord of an album. Bonus points should also go to the band for having a great sense of humor in choosing a fantastically kitschy album cover, which depicts Jesus repelling invading UFOs with divine blasts from his eyes. Jesus saves, indeed!
Les Big Byrd
They Worshipped Cats