Darlings of the psych rock scene since revered imprint Fuzz Club included one of their songs on the first Reverb Conspiracy compilations back in 2012, Lola Colt have established themselves as one of the most engaging, not to mention forward-thinking collectives on the circuit ever since.
The London-based six-piece might have their roots firmly entrenched in psychedelia, but there's clearly something more ambitious at large if the majority of Twist Through the Fire is anything to go by. While 2014's predecessor Away from the Water provided an insight into Lola Colt's make-up, the nine pieces of music here suggest they've not only broadened their musical horizons somewhat, but also developed a laissez faire, carefree spirit that means they're just as likely to veer off into a parallel universe at any unannounced juncture.
Although vocalist Gun Overbye's distinctive tones take centre stage on much of Twist Through the Fire - think an amalgam of Grace Slick and Siouxsie Sioux with the rough edges sawn off for good measure - the instrumentation added by her five cohorts is often what sets Lola Colt apart from any of their contemporaries. While some reference points are difficult to avoid. Jefferson Airplane, The Doors and The Banshees for instance, Lola Colt have enough nous about them to put their own stamp on proceedings. So when the juggernaut ride that is 'Gold' kickstarts Twist Through The Fire into action, Lola Colt's imaginative and audacious tendencies run riot.
Seeking inspiration from sources as far and wide as occult guru Aleister Crowley, Ennio Morricone's cinematic soundscapes and traditional Israeli folk music, Twist Through The Fire is unlike any other album you're likely to encounter this year. The melodramatic 'Dead Moon Jeopardy', one of many compositions here that changes coarse when least expected sets the scene indelibly, its insistent riff providing echoes of the late John McGeoch's halcyon years with both Magazine and Siouxsie & The Banshees.
Better still is the title track, a nine-minute-long opus that acts as the album's centre piece on more than one level. Ray Manzarek-style keyboard interludes cut through its heart in a similar way to the introduction segment of 'The End' before taking an altogether more hypnotic direction in the second half. Indeed, it could almost constitute two separate songs melded into one, yet joined so unambiguously that even its creators would struggle to spot the point of collusion.
'Moksha Medicine' serves its purpose as an instrumental bridge joining the aforementioned 'Twist Through The Fire' with the immediate West Coast pop flavoured 'Moonlight Mixing'. "I'm sugar for my baby" sings Overbye at her most convincingly assertive before a rhythmic crescendo garnered from Israeli folk standard 'Hava Nagila' takes the song into orbit during its final third. 'Bones' also reveals Lola Colt's penchant for knocking out three-and-a-bit minutes pop tunes, albeit with a Sixties-flavoured twist, while 'At War' does the exact opposite. Revealing the band at their most tranquil, its tribal beats and post-punk guitar work only adding spice to the mix along the way.
Slow burning closer 'Kilimanjaro' takes us back to the beginning, mirroring both opener 'Gold' and 'Eagle''s piano heavy spaghetti western in style and structure. Of course the most powerful weapon in Lola Colt's armoury lies with their live show, and while Twist Through The Fire comes close, it doesn't quite match the intensity acquired when seeing them in the flesh. Nevertheless, a great album is lurking in Lola Colt's lockers somewhere, and when the time is right to unleash there'll be no stopping them.
A valiant effort.
7Dom Gourlay's Score