Lake Effect - The Flower Investment Pawn (Cover Artwork)

Lake Effect

The Flower Investment Pawn (2016)

Sniffling Indie kids


Even though it's surely said with a wink, New Jersey's indie rock quartet Lake Effect are correct in calling themselves "ambitious folks" as they have now released two concept albums in two years. Following last year’s American Sarcasm, The Flower Investment Pawn’s title is derived from a verse in Bob Dylan's "It's Alright, Ma (Im Only Bleeding):" "Cultivate their flowers to be/ Nothing more than something they invest in."

The songs deal with the juxtaposition of living out a life where you focus primarily on being happy or being driven by material gain. Why do some people view life through an artistic lens and others a monetary lens? Can you be happy and be poor? Can you thrive with a job that dulls you artistically but gosh darn it, isn't it good to have the money needed to survive? 20s existentialism abounds. The record title/Dylan lyric uses flowers as an example: Flowers are grown by people who love them for their beauty and passion for gardening, while others grow them in mass quantities and sell them for profit.

“Milk The Cow,” a downright insane grunge song predominantly featuring a bass part left on the cutting room floor of Nirvana's Bleach is about how some people love and care for animals while others have no problem running a factory farm, the cries and suffering of the poor animals dutifully ignored.

The band uses the classic Beatles’ Paul & John set up (actually, Husker Du or The Go-Betweens are probably more apt): Guitarist Max Rauch is unrestrained and more sarcastic, while guitarist Keith Williams leans towards contemplative and earnest. Recorded live in the studio with no click track and minimal overdubs, it sounds more natural than most records in this generation’s copy/paste audio engineering culture.

The songs are diverse and bounce around many subgenres of indie rock/punk rock. “Cure-All” hosts an almost metal riff before it settles into Dear You era Jawbreaker. “Howlin' Alarm” does the Jeff The Brotherhood slow and heavy perfectly. “Appleseed” tells the tale of a neglectful father and goes in more of a pop direction with an insanely catchy melody. “Peaches,” well, I'm not positive anyone can tell what that's about exactly but it does have a gnarly bassline and memorably wild chorus.

With its varied tone and songs the 31 minutes go by quickly.