Once again, I’m going to attempt to keep things brief. It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster of ups and downs, as far as the old inspiration goes. Sometimes I’m in the mood to write, others, not so much. In fact, tonight is one of those off nights. But I figured I’d push on through. Maybe a spark will hit, and I’ll have something worthwhile to say. If not, they’ll still be a great piece of music to check out, regardless of what words spew forth on the page.
Let’s step back to 1993, and resurrect a little known cult classic called “Lazarus” from a forgotten bit of Brit brilliance known as The Boo Radleys. Sadly, these guys are no longer around. And if you’ve never heard of them, I wouldn’t be surprised – although, you might recognize their name from a character in “To Kill a Mockingbird” … or not, depending on if you’ve read the novel. It used to be required reading back in school …
Anyway, in their heyday, The Boo Radleys were underdog pioneers, tinkering with this bit of noise pop, that slice of shoegaze rock, bouncing between acoustic and electric, dabbling in reggae and smokin’ the dub, and even teasing some classical on the instrumental palate. They traversed the era, critically lauded, commercially underrated, yet ultimately found a symmetry in sound, balanced and harmonious, experimental and accessible.
“Lazarus” sticks to that plan, stirring the metaphorical melting pot, simmered with mixed melodies from many walks of lyrical life. At heart, it’s a deep smokey dub track, hazy, springy, with elastic riffs bouncing around in rubbery echoes of delay. One step above, it wears the psychedelic sleeves of shoegazed sound, kaleidoscopic and refractive, fuzzed over and jangled in six-string feedback and white-noise whispers. And as a topper, there’s a nice warm spread of big band brass that ties it all together. I’ll admit, it’s an odd combo, but it totally works.
Given that, “Lazarus” just fits my current mindset. It’s a little scatterbrained, full of disparate divergence, somewhat skeptical, yet still magically in sync. Plus, it feels like a melancholic triumph, full of belated self-realization (if not actualization). And it’s euphoric, with subtle hints of passive regret, slightly introspective, entirely meditative, and aimed forward at a second lease on life. I mean, it is called “Lazarus” for a reason.
I’d like to think songs like “Lazarus” are still made today. But I’m not so sure. I certainly haven’t run across one that flows as fluidly … unless of course, I throw some electronica into the mix. But in the reverb world of shoegaze and deep-cut dub, it seems to be an anomaly … albeit, a welcome one.
I think on that note, I’ll wrap it up. Hopefully, I didn’t ramble too much, nor descend too far into descriptive incoherence. As I said earlier, inspiration’s been a bit sparse tonight. I’m starting with the YouTube embed, which features the extended version. It’s got a longer intro, which in my mind, sits better all around. The Spotify version, which is also the album version, released on “Giant Steps,” clocks in at a few minutes less. Either way, enjoy The Boo Radley’s “Lazarus.”
“Lazarus” from the 1993 album “Giant Steps.”