How to operate with an unblown mind...
Maybe it just took them too long. Somewhere in the wake of 1998’s seminal
‘How To Operate With A Blown Mind’ LP and subsequent blitzkrieg success
Stateside, the Lo-Fi‘s star came crashing down to earth with a dull thud. As
they lost momentum, they lost relevance, leaving other bands to flourish in
the dance/rock crossover furrow they had ploughed. Still, their enthusiasm
for music has never failed – sustaining them through abandonment by both
singer and keyboard player on their first major tour, and compelling them to
create an astonishingly progressive sophomore album.
Necessity being the mother of invention, the Lo-Fi‘s attempt to fill the
void left by original Liam-esque frontman (and band personality) Wrekked
Train by recruiting a cast of guest vocalists, a practice which leaves
‘Don’t Be Afraid…’ both richer and less focused. The Lo-Fi lightstick is
waved impressively at everything from sultry soul (the Greg Dulli-blessed
‘Somebody Needs You’) to unabashed pop (‘Feel What I Feel’) and pretty,
ultra-slow balladeering (Bootsy Collins’ funk-free ‘On The Pier’). Sadly,
this mellowed maturity has come at a price, and the Lo-fi‘s seem to have
lost the renegade edge that once made them truly exciting. Also, one
can’t help but wish that after four years’ wait for only eleven tracks there
weren’t at least two (‘What You Want’, ‘Sleeping Faster’) that are just
plain boring. The Lo-Fi‘s are still operating more than competently, but
this time round they’re not likely to blow any minds.