Andy Molholt, member of bands like Speedy Ortiz and Very Fresh, pursues his own particular musical vision as Laser Background. Under this moniker, Molholt explores the affinities between psychedelia and childhood. “We Trust,” the opening track to Laser Background’s eponymous, debut EP, features a Spongebob Squarepants-style sea shanty chorus amid waves of flanged guitars and laser blast synth washes, while follow up record Super Future Montage’s “Fantasy Zone” sets Prince-like pitched up vocals against a Mega Man-core backing track.
“Climb the Hill” is the second single from Dark Nuclear Bogs, Molholt’s forthcoming record. If you have an affinity for anagrams, you might’ve noticed that Dark Nuclear Bogs is an rearrangement of Laser Background—a play on mid-career self-titled records that refine or subvert a band’s vision. If “Climb the Hill” is any indicator, then this trope will bare fruit. Not only is it one of Molholt’s most fully realized pop songs, it simultaneously pushes his music and production towards more textured, out-there, and evocative territory. It’s centered around a sparkling, nursery-rhyme keyboard line that’s rhythmically a little unbalanced, dropping a couple of bars here and there as it loops. The effect is something like the musical interpretation of a psychedelic crib mobile. It’s a compelling backdrop for Molholt’s pretty, hazy vocal melody, which relates what he has described as a “bit of psychedelic fiction”— a story about “a bell that you can ring” but can’t hear unless “you are pure.”
Being a kid, when a good chunk of what you experience every day is new and weird, is probably pretty trippy. The wooziness of psychedelia in music has often been used to explore hazy ambiguity between pleasure and terror; presence and non-presence. By connecting this ambiguity with the susceptibility to experience that comes with childhood, Laser Backgrounds makes psych-pop that’s remarkably affecting.
Check out the track below. Dark Nuclear Bogs is out on April 28 via Mutual Crush/Endless Daze. Moholt and co. will be on tour throughout April and May, performing in Ridgewood, Queens at Trans Pecos on April 28.