Alternative act Les Big Byrd was first formed in 2011 by Swedish musicians Joakim Åhlund and Frans Johansson. After dropping their debut album, They Worshipped Cats, last year, the duo went on to showcase their skills at a number of prolific events, including Danish festival Roskilde, Liverpool’s Psych Fest and Way Out West at home in Sweden.
The pair have recently returned to follow up last year’s inaugural effort with two different EPs, each of which contains four compositions. The first of these, Swedish Death Star, hit in April and gets off to an adrenaline fueled start with its title track. A funky riff unfolds amid characterful electronics that set an otherworldly atmosphere in the background. Continuing to exhibit a plethora of colourful motifs while maintaining a relentless rhythm, it’s an intriguing blend of pop, punk and dance that’s consistently quick and quirky.
“I Woke Up in a Dream” is just as zany afterwards, despite developing at a slightly slower pace. Featuring resonant vocals that bear a strong psychedelic flavour, its instrumentation becomes increasingly ethereal, yet also manages to keep things lighthearted and lively.
“Anywhere But Here” bursts into a speedy riff that has a nice rock ‘n’ roll flavour to it next, before being joined by more striking synths and a far off, distorted harmony. Its quick momentum is quite arresting, charging furiously forward as a whole host of eccentric elements chime nonchalantly in and out.
“Vapour R.I.P.” is extremely reserved and serene for its first minute and a half, at which point a mellow melody takes off. Moving forward gradually from here, it’s a slow and methodical behemoth of a finale that brings things to a progressive end.
Sequel compilation, Liquid Sky, arrived in May and begins in a similar vein to its predecessor. “This Summer Ends Tonight” features a busy and bustling beat that sprints in the direction of relaxed but enthusiastic vocals and an energetic chorus. It all amounts to an anthem that’s somehow simultaneously laid back and exciting.
An ominous opening sets a sinister tone as “Dust Heads” arrives sporting musical cues akin to horror movies of the seventies and eighties. The foreboding feel persists throughout fervent percussion and synths to forge a unique and unusual offering with a rather dark and disturbing edge.
“Liquid Sky” emerges from its aftermath upon a bracing bass line which teams up with a brisk beat to thrill ahead of some light guitar work. It’s a fast and frantic undertaking that seems to be in quite a hurry for its duration. “Roundhouse Blues” takes a while to get going afterwards, but eventually bursts into delirious synths which race relentlessly onwards once again. It serves as a vivacious electro-pop conclusion.
The wild and wacky nature of Les Big Byrd’s material across both records makes their music extremely difficult to define, which is probably why their Facebook page lists its genre as “Kraut, Psych, Punk whatever”. However, it also makes for a quaint and kooky listen which is a lot of fun. While Stockholm Death Star is a stronger offering than Liquid Sky, both are fanciful enough to maintain your attention throughout. Check them out on iTunes now.