Stream: Johnny Hawaii “Southern Lights” (exclusive)

19 Sep 2013 — Henry Schiller

It's appropriate that the opening track of Johnny Hawaii's Southern Lights debut, five song album has a (fairly obtuse) Twin Peaks reference in its title. "The Parrots Are Not What They Seem (They're Just Pigeons On Acid)" is a fine taste of the kind of retro meets phenomenological aesthetic that so consumed David Lynch and Mark Frost's classic television series. But the parrots (or owls, or pigeons) really are not what they seem, as Johnny Hawaii has swapped out Lynchian cool for a taste of tropical futurism, the substitution is much obliged; Southern Lights has all the meticulous development of a Mogwai album, but with about as much faux-erudition as the score to a popular early 90s television show (which is to say: not much).

I'm an immediate fan of any full-length album that has fewer than six songs, and every track on Southern Lights makes the most of the space it's been given. The seven minute "Canoeing Down A Quiet River" proposes exactly the kind of aural journey its title would suggest, and just like when you enter an actual river, we don't have to deal with any heady (see: boring) buildup into the good stuff. Johnny Hawaii lets us dive right in. This track in particular makes me think of a cross between the iconic score to John Lurie's Fishing With John, crossed with some of Person Pitch's more relaxed moments.

"Inner Beach" is suggestive of an even more pronounced Panda Bear influence, but Johnny Hawaii lives up to his own name by injecting everything with a sort of beach-ready anti-resistance. This is the kind of album that you just let wash over you. Forgive me yet another David Lynch reference, but it's almost like Mulholland Drive; there's enough substance that you could become lost trying to devise a tangible negotiation of the piece's form, but you're better off just letting it happen in front of you. Take this to the beach, take this on a drive, take this to bed on a rainy day; Southern Lights is all-weather relaxation in the form of cerebral compositions.

Southern Lights is out September 30 via Hands in the Dark and La Station Radar; listen to the exclusive stream below: