Lesser Evil‘s artwork finds Airick Woodhead, a.ka. Doldrums, reflected in a broken-beyond-repair laptop screen.
In all honesty, that image of his identity obscured by a wrote-off laptop screen pretty much says it all – the 22 year-old’s debut LP uses a mish-mash of playfully experimental electro-pop and droning psychadelic noise to invoke the terrible death of modern youth culture at the hands of mass commercialism and social media.
The laptop, by the way, is on loan from Woodhead’s fellow Montreal-based electronic artist and bosom bud, Claire Boucher of Grimes. Boucher’s music, particularly last year’s breakthrough album Visions, isn’t actually a bad reference point when attempting to describe Lesser Evil: woozy, danceable, dream-like sounds redolent of the post-internet age.
Lesser Evil was recorded using entirely analogue instruments and equipment, which is pretty bold considering how easy it would have been to recreate certain effects using a program like FL Studio. That decision only further drives the point of Lesser Evil being a rejection of modern technology home.
Anomaly and She Is The Wave, the first two songs after an atmospheric intro of lovingly looped samples of Woodhead’s own babe-in-the-woods falsetto, effectively function as Lesser Evil‘s own Genesis and Oblivion – they’re undoubtedly the two best songs on the album, and Airick is smart to front-load his album with them like Boucher did Visions.
Egypt is another album highlight, underpinning 8-bit bleep-bloops with a steady static tide. You get the sense that a lot of the album’s rhythmically intricate sections would be breathtaking to behold live, where Woodhead performs with two drummers.
As carefully crafted as Lesser Evil is, though, Doldrums lacks the same force of personality that made even the less palatable sections of Visions a joy to listen to. The washes of reverberation and decay sometimes feel a little bit too washed out, demanding a patience that its pay-off doesn’t quite deserve.