Are you looking to spend twenty minutes being thoroughly depressed by an excellent indie talent? If so, have I got the album for you!
If the name Laszlo Jones sounds vaguely familiar, you might recall his meme-hit "Download Me I'm Free" way back in 2010. After a full decade out of the spotlight, Laszlo Jones has reemerged dropping new songs this year, culminating in his new five-track EP Beyond The Door. However, where "Download Me" was a goofy Bollywood-inspired satire of early click culture, Beyond The Door focuses on that most primal of subjects: death itself.
And while the album lacks subtlety, it certainly doesn't lack verve.
Indeed, it starts in about the most in-your-face way possible, with "Kill Myself," cold-opening on stereo chants of "hey baby I'm gonna kill myself, baby I'm gonna I'm gonna kill myself" before the song actually kicks in. This sets the tone for the album. Somehow mashing up 2000s Euro-Metal and goofy K-pop vocoder production, "Kill Myself" focuses on a man addicted to extreme behaviors, aware he's going to cross the line sooner or later. "Save me, save me from myself" he asks, even as he revels in YOLO-style behavior.
No two songs on this album sound alike, so from there, "Out Of My Head" is a bluesy rocker about toxic attachment. Continuing the suicidal themes, he's lamenting the loss of a lover and claims he'll die if they ever 'get out of his head.' Without the vocoder - which is arguably overused overall - Jones' excellent voice is allowed to shine. Here, it's throaty, emotional, and powerful, adding extra punch to the lyrics.
In many ways, the centerpiece of the album, literally, is "Save My Soul." It begins as a fairly standard (but very nice) spiritual lament about failing to see the light, and calling on God to enlighten him. However, because no one is allowed to be happy in this album, the final thirty seconds shifts into metal screaming as he declares that God is dead and he can't be saved.
And if that sounds on-the-nose, check out the official video which dropped side-by-side with the album on November 5. It ends with a busload of pilgrims literally driving off a cliff and exploding.
But that still isn't depressing enough for Laszlo Jones! "From Above" - the longest track on the album - is an extended mournful piece from a father dying too young, saying goodbye to his child. It's a self-written eulogy, begging the child to continue to live their life without him. Again, Jones' voice truly shines here, elevating the high melodrama of the lyrics with genuine emotion and soul.
Finally, it wraps up with "In The Morning," an enigmatic piece once again touching on themes of lost love and death, with a midsection suggesting some kind of bloody warfare or possibly even a suicide bombing. It's the only truly ambiguous moment on the album, and also the most musically catchy. A combination of piano, retro synths, and some absolutely lit drumming from Ralph Salmins make it sound like a potential pop hit.
That Laszlo Jones has plenty of talent is inarguable. His singing and his composing are absolutely spot-on. Unfortunately, in many ways Beyond The Door comes off more like a demo reel than an actual album, without any musical cohesion beyond the omnipresent death motif. Jones wants to establish his talent, and he certainly does so, but it's hard to know who to recommend this album to.
However, if he can find a bit more unity in his sound - and maybe develop a little more subtlety in his lyrics - he could be truly great.