Marijuana Deathsquads - Oh My Sexy Lord

Like 8-bit Mogwai after decades of plague and warfare.

Label: Memphis Industries


With the alarm barely piercing open the bleary eyes of 2014 the year may already have one of its most challenging and invigorating listens. Marijuana Deathsquads is the sound of music collapsing in on itself, a violent contraction of swirling synths, completely disfigured vocals and drumming at a breakneck speed. For something so very clearly digital, it sounds terrifically primal. It’s a weird sort of cocktail that makes the likes of The Mae Shi and Blood Brothers more than shadowy figures on the horizon of an old profile.

It’s a distorting black hole of energy led by Gayngs member Ryan Olson and Poliça’s own Ben Ivascu among others. Spinning unstoppably towards the core are Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon and Poliça’s lead vocalist Channy Leaneagh, as notable guests. While the synthesiser onslaught is a world away from sluggish guitars, ‘Oh My Sexy Lord’ has the feel of electro post-rock, one song blending seamlessly into the next, each its own platform for an orgy of instruments at its crescendo. Like 8-bit Mogwai after decades of plague and warfare.

‘Ewok Sadness’ is an irresistible opener, a downtempo moonlit beep track, punctuated by disembodied scratchy vocals. Marijuana Deathsquads aren’t abandoning traditional electronica out of fear, as in their more stable moments they ably prove their worth next to the likes of Soulwax or Caribou, but out of impulse. There’s an altogether more furious and insidious energy at the heart of the album than any dancefloor-shaking ambition. Resuming the fuzz is ‘Crosstown Crippler’ which allows for unusual lyrical clarity with discernible lines like “I know, you told me so, but I hope I didn’t ruin your life” with a straightforward and powerful poppiness.  At times it’s hard to separate the sounds from HEALTH, but that’s no bad thing – imagine being told you play guitar like Jimi Hendrix. Halfway through and without a faltering step so far ‘Oh My Sexy Lord’ turns a Justin Vernon vocal into an eighties sci-fi soundscape, on ‘Stacks’, until the atmosphere is shattered with the piercing howls prominent throughout the album. The most apt self-description of a track in years is found in ‘Bad Boy Masterpiece’ which once again effortlessly blurs into the claustrophobic and eerie ‘8 9 3’.

In Marijuana Deathsquads we’ve already found this year’s prowling alligator, ready to take a chunk out of anything that crosses its path. More power, more fury, more energy – it’s certainly a promising tone to set.