Once in a great while a record comes out and completely catches me off guard. Sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. With the debut record of LNZNDRF it’s definitely for the better. It’s one of those debuts that comes out of the gate and grabs you instantly. Part euro pop, part Krautrock and all cold sheen with a mood of content indifference. It’s like Klaus Dinger took all the best qualities of La Dusseldorf and NEU! and combined them with the aesthetic of the goth of early 80s alternative. It’s dark, but not mopey. It’s introspective, but hopeful.
LNZNDRF is the collaboration between The National’s Bryan and Scott Devendorf and Beirut’s Benjamin Lanz, and in some of the more bigger moments on this album you might be able to hear echos of the brothers Devendorf’s main gig. I’m not as familiar with Benjamin Lanz’ Beirut, but if you are perhaps you’ll hear some of that in there as well. The thing you need to concentrate on here is that LNZNDRF is decidedly its own thing. Opening track “Future You” sounds cavernous and foreboding in it’s initial beginning moments, but then opens up into this glorious chunk of Krautrock that would’ve felt right at home on NEU! or NEU!2. It’s an instrumental affair that chugs along for over seven minutes of motorik beats and squealing guitar that straightens up into a properly blissful melody. It’s a rather epic track. “Beneath The Black Sea” is a sunnier and more driving track with vocals. Vocal duties are shared by Lanz and Scott Devendorf, and this track sounds like a mash up of early 70s NEU! with early 80s New Order. “Mt Storm” lingers in the air like a late-era Roxy Music track. It sounds like pop music of the future. “Kind Things” is decidedly weirder, with a Here We Go Magic vibe. “Hypo-Skate” is another epic instrumental that these three guys definitely excel at.
I would never dissuade someone from adding vocals to a song they think could use them. That is unless I’m producing the album. If I’d produced these guys I would’ve said “You know what guys? I think LNZNDRF should be an instrumental outfit, as you guys kill it when you’re concentrating on the sonics.” With songs like “Future You”, “Hypno-Skate”, and “Samarra” it’s obvious the guys in LNZNDRF know there way around the instruments and can build a beautiful instrumental. Why muck that magic up with vocals? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the vocals on this debut, it’s just that when you open an album so strongly it’s hard to top it. I’d love to hear an epic double LP with nothing but LNZNDRF instrumentals. That would be a great way to spend an hour or so. The brothers Devendorf and Benjamin Lanz do connect the instrumentals and vocals nicely on “Beneath The Black Sea” and again on “Monument”, an oddly constructed track with wonky instruments with a more straight-up vocal approach.
LNZNDRF is a nice mid-March surprise of a record. I don’t want to say the Devendorfs are stifled in The National, but this record shows they’ve got a lot more to say than what we’re hearing in The National. And Benjamin Lanz lets his inner Michael Rother shine on this album. I think we should push for that all instrumental album. Bombard their email and Twitters and Facebooks with heartfelt requests of such an album. Together, we can accomplish anything.