Lazer Sword starts and ends with the surprisingly melodic "Tar" and "Beast's Reprise," both filled with arpeggiated synths and engaging melodies. But most of the album is in line with the post-Human After All school of distorted, heavily filtered French house: "Agrokrag," "Web Swag" and "Def Work" are all heavily reminiscent of SebastiAn or the latter Oizo, and "Surf News" has more in common with the kind of reverential house forged by French wonder boy Surkin. "Machine," on the other hand, is a successful nod to vintage electro ala Cybotron and Dopplereffekt, while "4Loko" and "Batman" are the kind of IDM you'd think Squarepusher would unleash if he were on Ativan.
It might appear too derivative on paper to some, but it is when Lazer Sword indulge their inner ghetto affiliations and mix it with bass-heavy winks that their production approaches originality. On "I'm Gone," a more leftfield hip-hop number featuring Californian rapper Turf Talk, they even come up with the kind of futuristic sounding R&B Timbaland or The Neptunes used to produce in their sleep a decade ago. Just like the other tracks featuring guest vocalists (M. Sayyid on "Topflites," Myka 9 on "Cosmic Ride"), this is where Lazer Sword feels more genuinely comfortable with their various influences.
But while the Californian duo might be wearing its sonic affiliations and inspirations on its sleeve, the way they adroitly combine them makes for an involving listen that doesn't require the live context to make sense. How it relates to the definition of the American west coast's electronic music sound, though, is a different story altogether.