Since their first album was released Loudboy, the brainchild of guitarist John Andrews, has gone through some changes, one of which is the addition of Brian Viglione (Dresden Dolls, Violent Femmes) sitting behind the drum kit. Now with Andrews, bassist Jason Binnick, and Viglione the band has become something more grounded, but at the same time reaching new heights, as evident in their new release Ultra Mk.
The record starts off a bit slow with "The in Between," where Andrews laments about a friend who's wasted his life lying about as the world passes by. That theme follows through in "All Fall Through," where the song builds up to the trio transforming into musical madmen in an In Rainbows-era Radiohead-like fashion.
It's during both "King of the Fleas" and "Blowdryer Tortoise" where both the mood and the band change drastically, becoming a band reminiscent of Stone Temple Pilots at their prime. Andrews shouts "I put some poison in your water," but in a way that's not a threat of murder but an invitation to trip out in a drug-fueled craze. It's a musical moment that makes you realize where all of Scott Weiland's lyrical talent went to after he detoxed.
Loudboy's second album likes to jump between softer ballads and harder guitar licks that it appears to suffer from an identity crisis. The melody in "Blue" is hard not to get hypnotized to, showcasing the heartfelt sincerity in Andrews's vocals. Meanwhile "Elementary" tinkers with a Zeppelin-like swamp rock that'll have you swaying your body in psychedelic fashion. "Enemy," on the other hand, throws you into the heat of battle, acting like a melodious Vietnam vet flashing back to some of his less-than-noble actions.
Ultra Mk can be a bit jumbled at times, but sometimes we all need our music to be discombobulated. This is one of those times where you can take an album, warts and all, and embrace it for its raw, yet semi-apologetic nature.