Album Review: Lolawolf – Calm Down

Published On October 11, 2014 | By Naomi Janes | Albums, Music

Calm Down is the debut album by New York electronic pop trio Lolawolf. Fronted by actress Zoe Kravitz, Lolawolf is the flawless amalgamation of this gutsy vocalist, Reputante’s James Levy and the production skills of Jimmy Ginnopoulos. While Zoe is the only child of Lisa Bonet and legendary musician Lenny Kravitz, this is clearly not an album that rides on the coattails of her father. Instead Lolawolf’s debut LP is distinctive and forward thinking, and has Zoe forging her own path into the music scene.

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The album begins surprisingly, with a title track that is difficult to grasp and even more difficult to describe. Introduced by male vocals that yell ‘Try to speed up the beat,’ while progressively becoming slower and slower, Calm Down immediately contradicts itself and provides a bizarre welcome to its listeners. With tribal and hip-hop elements, this track is heavily percussive and made up of a greatly unpredictable beat. Equally unpredictable are Kravitz’s vocals, which build upon themselves to create a multi-layered soundscape.  Dropping the bass at around the 40-second mark, the song suddenly comes together and makes certain that you are in for a unique but fascinating journey through this album.

The follow up, AYO, is equally as scattered and unusual, but has a melodic chorus that creates instant appeal. While Zoe Kravitz says she isn’t looking for pop stardom and sees music as more of a hobby, the freedom that this attitude gives her is apparently leading to risks that have the potential to pay off. Jimmy Franco is another easily embraceable single whose appeal lies in its venture down the path less trodden. Its music video features A$AP Rocky and provides a feel-good accompaniment to this upbeat and playful track.

Lolawolf have an eclectic sound, which seems to be influenced by a range of sources, from artists like M.I.A. and Grimes as well as their time spent recording in the Bahamas and Las Vegas. At times Zoe’s crooning vocals give the music a touch of R&B, but this is distorted in its heavy electronic production.

As Lolawolf are currently on tour with Lily Allen, it seems fitting that What Love Is is so reminiscent of her style. Obviously more electronic and heavily synth driven, this track is one of the more whimsical pop tunes on the album, but could easily become a crowd favourite.

The final few songs return the album to its unpredictable beginnings with a mash up of piano melodies, heavy bass lines, swelling synths, layers of echoey vocals and scattered, unusual beats. The final track, Take a Hint, is an epic synth driven conclusion that demonstrates Kravitz’s range and gutsiness as a lead vocalist.

Calm Down is unparalleled and provides a powerful debut for the talented musicians. While Zoe Kravitz may not be looking to become a renowned musician, she and the other band members have combined appeal and intrigue to create an exceptional first album.

4.5 / 5 stars     

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