Lightning Bolt has been ruining amplifiers and eardrums for over 20 years now, but their core sound hasn’t changed a whole lot since their sophomore album, Ride the Skies, came out in 2001. If anything their new album, Fantasy Empire, is more focused and less frantic than past releases. It’s also their first to come out on Thrill Jockey following a long partnership with Providence’s Load Records. After years of having people fall on them during shows, and recording on old tapes, it’s probably something of a relief to reel it all in and record in an actual studio.
If you’ve seen Lightning Bolt play at all in the past couple years, you’ve probably heard at least a couple of the new songs already. Fantasy Empire’s third track, “Horsepower,” has been a mainstay of Lightning Bolt’s live show for awhile now, and it’s a pretty good example of the groovier and more danceable direction some of their jams started taking on 2009’s Earthly Delights. The fourth track, “King of my World,” might be the first time a Lightning Bolt recording has expanded their instrumentation beyond Brian Gibson’s bass guitar and Brian Chippendale’s vocals and drums, using a little bit of synth in what seems to be a bit of seepage from Chippendale’s solo project, Black Pus. The eighth and penultimate track, “Dream Genie,” is one of the album’s fastest and most aggressive, harking back to 2005’s Hypermagic Mountain. It’s probably my favorite for now, because it makes you feel like you’re hurdling towards the sun on a wave of technicolor awesome.
Thrill Jockey’s first vinyl pressing appears to be sold out, but they’re taking preorders for a second pressing of pink LPs. There’s always CDs too. Learn all about that here. Lightning Bolt’s playing at the Sinclair on May 17, along with Boston’s own Skimask and (New England) Patriots. And look the Hassle is throwing the show?! Make sure you go!