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Lol Tolhurst, Budgie, and Jacknife Lee – Los Angeles Review

Compilation is key for the melting pot of Los Angeles. Where lead trio Lol Tolhurst, Budgie and Jacknife Lee of The Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees and legendary productions from the last thirty years, perhaps the all-time greatest currently active supergroup, do well, is in collaboration. Not with one another – their near-century of collective experience is galvanised by appearances from The Edge, James Murphy and Bobby Gillespie. Still, name-dropping those of U2 and LCD Soundsystem only gets you so far. It is the quality within which helps Los Angeles through the rut and into the deeply seeped love of Hollywood. Not the best of starts with This is What it Is (To Be Free), though Gillespie is no longer a hallmark of quality after Enough is Enough! 

Enough is, indeed, enough. Once his scattered appearances are shunted to one side, Los Angeles begins to cobble itself together under weighty expectations from its ensemble of musicians. Band-Aid wishes it could draw the brain behind Daft Punk is Playing at My House. For better or worse, the impression each new collaboration brings to Los Angeles can be heard immediately. Murphy, who features on the titular track, does away with the preceding strings of Gillespie and brings an unwinding, wailing electronic thump. There is a sense of Hollywood nostalgia, or perhaps it is melancholy. Black and white backgrounds, the crackles of a record being placed down and played over – broken into by a darker Beastie Boys-style beat on Ghosted At Home, placing Los Angeles is complicated. A rare treat, but a messy listen too. Almost intentional, that feeling of wading through the remnants of studio exposure. 

Robotic musings on a photograph of God give Train With No Station some purpose in the void of electronics. Pan Amsterdam brings a grand flair to Travel Channel but this, along with the rest of the feature-led tracks, is the real problem for Los Angeles. Despite all the commotion, with all these big names dropping in and out of the recordings, there is no sense of independence to the trio who plant their names so proudly on this. Los Angeles still makes for a strong and, at times, intense listen, but it is blinkered in its latter stages – once the bells and whistles of The Edge are through. Good luck hearing his influence, about as recognisable here as Murphy was on Idles’ latest track, where a positive inclusion is neutered and formed into something which could do without. 

“Can we ever dream again?” Country Of The Blind asks. Who knows. Los Angeles is not just a warm blanket of interesting instrumental choices but a frustrating piece that never comes together. It is not, as expected, the sum of its parts. Fragmented bits and pieces which all come and go as though independent of one another – yet desperately clawing for a place alongside one another. It is a change of pace the trio never quite adapts, even if the latter parts of this piece are thoroughly enjoyable and contain some of the best moments. We Got To Move may be completely off pace for the rest of the album but it does provide some much-needed brevity and difference, something Los Angeles bottles up and leaves for its final moments. Too little, too late, unfortunately.

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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