Narcissistic, celebratory, and positively psychedelic: what else would we expect from a supergroup comprised of Labrinth, Sia, and Diplo? The music group, which formed last year, recently released their debut album Labrinth, Sia & Diplo Present... LSD.
Sia’s poetic lyricism and powerful belts have set her apart in the past decade, with songs “Chandelier,” “Cheap Thrills,” and “Elastic Heart” peaking within Billboard’s Top 10 Hits. She has also risen to fame through songwriting masterpieces like Rihanna’s “Diamonds” and Beyoncé’s “Pretty Hurts.”
Similarly, Diplo has risen to fame through collaborations with other popular artists such as Rae Sremmurd, Ellie Goulding, Mark Ronson, and Dua Lipa. The producer’s funky twist on electronic and hip-hop music contributes a bold but exciting twist to this album.
Lesser-known, Labrinth has had more success with his collaborations than as a soloist, but his soulful, 2000s R&B vocals bring yet another twist to this album.
Colorful, trippy visuals by artist Gabriel Alcala in the accompanying music videos contribute a sense of surrealism to the album. Many of the animations are reminiscent of the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band eras, even featuring a Magical Mystery Tour Bus in the “Thunderclouds” video. Musically, however, the album seems to fall short in fulfilling the psychedelic narrative implied by the album title.
Though not exactly hallucinogenic, the album comes across as pop-with-a-twist: the three artists blend their unique styles to create a genuinely interesting album. The LP relies heavily on production, utilizing bouncy, hip-hop beats and vocal cutting to create an electronic dance club vibe. The first track, “Welcome to the Wonderful World of” begins with a delightful a cappella harmonization of Sia and Labrinth’s voices. A sudden bass drop shifts the song, transporting the listener to musical outer space, with bright electronic synth beats and a bright, high guitar melody.
Aside from its experimental production, the vocal interplay and harmonization are the group’s strongest suits, particularly on the tracks “Mountains” and “It’s Time.” The latter piece doesn’t seem to fit into the album as a whole, as it bears a more melancholic tone, but it showcases each vocalist’s technical abilities by shifting away from heavy belting and vocal mixing. “Thunderclouds,” in particular, is effervescent and melodic, combining Diplo’s mixing skills with Sia’s piercing belts and Labrinth’s smooth baritone notes. The lyrics of this piece are powerful and artistic, with an ambiguity that allows listeners to interpret the story in their own ways.
Unlike “Thunderclouds,” most of the lyrics on Sia’s newest work are flat and superficial, with far too little complexity or far too much vagueness. Where her previous works tend to be revealing, provocative, and introspective, the substance of this LP doesn’t seem to live up to the hype.
There is room for critique in the dialogue surrounding this work, but there were many aspects that impressed me. The album as a whole was an interesting narrative of strength and empowerment in spite of the individual songs’ deficiencies. Though the hype surrounding the album was slightly misleading, the group’s collaborative skills are unparalleled. LSD is a truly fun pop composition.
While the album deserves a listen, it certainly isn’t ground-breaking. I’m not desperately waiting up for a new project from the group, but I also can’t say I’ll be dropping LSD anytime soon.