Brooklyn-based band Minaxi certainly have been prolific over the last few years, releasing a number of EPs as well as their 2020 debut album Khwab. This June finds multi-instrumentalists Shrenik Ganatra and Liam Christian and drummer Steve Carlin back in familiar territory, moving through shoegaze, psych, rock, and Indian classical music on their sophomore LP Lazuleen.
The album kicks off with bright, shimmering guitars on “Hey,” bringing a thread of optimism right from the jump (“hey look outside it’s such a beautiful day / I – I’m at your doorstep calling your name”) before moving on to buzzing guitars and quiet-loud dynamics on “Mother.” Minaxi often go for the ethereal side of shoegaze rather than the total wall of sound, but they do beef it up in places, such as on “Adore” and “Manchala,” a track sung in Hindi, bringing to mind Gish-era Smashing Pumpkins. Dare I say there is a bit of Sunny Day Real Estate in here as well? (“Adore” also features bass and vocals from Theadora Curtis of Climates, who sings on “Alive I Feel When I Look In Your Eyes,” too.) In particular, the drum production is crisp and well-mixed; the band notes they were recorded live with no metronome as to capture their live energy.
Minaxi (photo by Mark Laubenheimer)
The lyrics, both in English and Hindi, are lilting and poetic, as on the track “Reese:” “fiery ropes / in the snowfields / wrapped around / the glacial sheets / dance away / in the winter wind.” There is a lot of beauty and love here, but also doubt, longing and loneliness. Lazuleen is in fact a bit of a concept album, as the songs are (according to the group’s Bandcamp) “addressed to the oceans, skies, trees and winds through the lens of the lazuli bunting, the blue songbird.” The album ends on an upbeat note, with things coming full circle in “August,” when “it feels like once again joy is in the air.”
(On a personal note, THANK YOU to Minaxi for including the lyrics on their Bandcamp page, seriously that makes not only my job of reviewing easier, but enhances the pleasure of listening for everyone! More bands should do this!)
Lazuleen as an LP is ten tracks long, available from Bandcamp on vinyl, cassette, and digital; all versions include a download that also features a number of b-sides and remixes, featuring a 13 min ambient-leaning remix of “The Deep Blue Sea Conveys Your Love” from Slowdive drummer Simon Scott. (Of the extra tracks, I was a fan of “Phir Manchala,” sung in Hindi and absolutely groovy.)