Lowrider / Refractions – stoner legends take us for a ride

This writer loves torturing analogies until they proverbially beg for mercy (just like that one). Today, the object under the wordhammer is an engine. It’s a fitting choice for discussing Swedish stoner-rock icons Lowrider for a number of reasons – first among which would be the tropes of their preferred genre. Stoner rock is about the endless drive, aiming for the horizon in a muscle car or on the back of a Harley, and it’s also about reliability. You know what you’re getting when you put on a stoner rock record; big riffs, big tones, a dousing of psychedelia and, perhaps above all else, big grooves. Lowrider have not disappointed in the slightest on their new album.

Right from the off it’s clear we’re dealing with a work of quality engineering (see, there’s that analogy again), both compositionally and production-wise. Opener ‘Red River’ reminds us exactly what stoner rock is all about – a huge tune with bags of momentum, a mix with plenty of space for listening to each layer with ease, and lots of simple-but-spicy melodic turns across the guitars and vocals. All the pieces fit perfectly, like a brand-new V8 block, and indeed the whole album has the feel of a band who’ve brought in only the best parts. The drum production across the record is particularly enjoyable, with Andreas Eriksson’s lines cutting through beautifully under waves of glorious pentatonic fuzz – you can distinctly hear the pitch of the kick drum at points, which is intensely satisfying. 

On ‘Ode to Ganymed’ and ‘Sernanders Krog’ we’re treated to straight-ahead rockers that tease out into spacey psych-jams, complete with organ solo, but these are no ‘70s pastiches. Rather, the Swedes have found new life in a genre with a notoriety for staid writing, merely by tackling its tropes with the sheer confidence and refinement of musicians who’ve been around the block. By the time we hit the eleven-minute closer ‘Pipe Rider’, with its soaring lead line and arena-ready chorus, it’s a done deal – this is a stoner rock record that hits all the marks, and all that’s needed to complete the fantasy is a big car and nowhere in particular to go. Across six tracks, Lowrider are showing the kids exactly how it’s done while still sounding as fresh as Kyuss did on Welcome to Sky Valley or Truckfighters on Gravity X – it’s the work of true professionals.

Refractions is released via Blues Funeral Recordings on 21st February and can be purchased here.

Words: David Burke

 

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