It’s hard these days to stand out as a band, especially the internet seems to be flooded every day with new indie-pop acts claiming ot be the next big thing. So how does one go about setting them apart from the rest of the pack? In the case of Grand Rapids foursome, The Lake Effects, you add some “brass band capabilities” to those “indie-pop sensibilities.”
The last time I talked to the band in January of last year they had just released a nice little pop-punk tinged EP, My Friends All Left Me. The group has been very busy this past year and still managed to find time to record their first full length LP, Ioway. While the album is composed mostly of tracks written over the last 6 or 7 years, the tracks were reworked to make them studio-ready. The band also spent a lot of time finding a way to link the tracks together so that they would form a cohesive idea.
The fuzzy opening guitars of album starter “Banding Together” will have you assuming that Ioway is your run-of-the-mill indie-rock album, the horns don’t wait long to prove that it’s anything but. The bouncy drums and horns contrast the ominous guitar riff, building nicely into the first verse. This kind of juxtaposition of bright and dark occur throughout the entire album and is probably the most apparent on “Banding Together.”
The Lake Effects prove their genre mixing abilities on possibly my favorite track of the album, “Happy’s Pizza.” Singer Niko Schroeder channels The Smiths era Morrissey as the funk guitar dances underneath some 80’s inspired synths. In the hands of lesser musicians the track could have just ended up a jumbled mess. However, everything comes together nicely to create a song that you won’t be able to resist getting up and dancing along to.
“Happy’s Pizza” transitions effortlessly into the swinging intro of “Late June Riot.” Honestly that transition is the reason I consider the two tracks function as my favorite song on the album. “Jimmy” showcases the band’s sense of humor nicely as well as being catchy as hell.
Ioway is an impressive first shot at a full length LP. I found it hard to believe that the songs were written separately over several years and not all at once. The tracks feel cohesive yet are different enough that there’s never a dull moment throughout the nine tracks. There’s a lot going on but songs never feel cluttered. In fact, the multiple layers ensure that you’ll discover something new with each listen.