REVIEW: Lou Breed - Locus of Control

Raquel Dalarossa

In personality psychology, locus of control is a concept dealing with how people understand the extent of the control we each have over our lives. For some, control is ceded to circumstance or perhaps a higher power, while for others, control is, in their minds, all their own. For many, I think, this is a fluid notion; “fate”—or something like it—can be a comforting belief, but it doesn’t relieve us from at times feeling like we’ve truly gone and fucked up, or even worse, like someone in our lives has gone and fucked things up for us.

The theory aptly lends its title to Jeremy Daly’s first proper full-length LP under his moniker Lou Breed. Locus of Control is a tight and tender collection of psych-tinged rock and roll, in which Daly grapples with how to make sense of people and events in his life—and, moreover, how to accept them for what they are.

To accomplish this, Daly recruited a number of friends and collaborators, and recorded the entire album with a full band and an eight track over a long weekend in November 2014. It’s a pretty huge departure from Lou Breed’s previous releases, which each had a truly solo feel to them—cloistered, experimental, and mainly available digitally. With some help from Kickstarter, Locus of Control is being offered on vinyl, along with some limited edition art prints. All this is to say that a special kind of effort went into the production of this album, and it’s reflected in the way it sounds: there’s a fullness and weightiness to it, a velvety quality taking up all of the negative space in the songs.

Narcotic, dusky guitars and somber harmoniums lead the way in these tracks, along with Daly’s bluesy vocals wondering at his own agency in the world. In “Laura,” he asserts, “Now I feel dumb and bruised up / But I refuse to be a loser,” but then immediately flounders, saying “Maybe just a bit confused / In the right place at the wrong time / Or the wrong place at the right time.” Later, in “Lilly With a Shirt On,” he spends nearly eight repetitious minutes carrying us through a series of memories involving the titular character—Lilly drunk at a party, Lilly joking with some guy on the phone, Lilly in a photograph—while at the same time fixating on the one time Lilly asked him to “come over right now.” The song culminates in a rising, aggressive swirl of droning instruments—a realization that the narrator’s obsessive love is unrequited.

The album’s closing track, “Sung Song,” by contrast, spends its own eight minutes contemplating the future instead of poring over the past. Daly muses on the many ways death might come to him, effectively ending the record by accepting that his “fate is sealed” and that dying is something none of us have control over. If the album, with its raw and at times improvisational feel, is any indication, the act of relinquishing one's self seems to promise rather impressive results.