Blinded By Science
Odds ‘n’ ends collections are always a curiosity for the listener, even if the listener is a fan. This proves especially true for The Locust’s Molecular Genetics from the Gold Standard Labs, a collection of early and rare tracks issued by The Locust’s original label, Gold Standard Laboratories. True, though this is not an all-too-uncommon practice for many bands and labels once different deals are made and competing hands are shook, in the case of The Locust, it’s hard to outline for the casual listener what exactly is being charted here. The Locust doesn’t seem like the kind of group whose fans would seek out hard-to-find tracks or a retrospective. However, with some of the group’s material being out of print or only available as an expensive import, there is some credence for this collection’s existence.
Lineup changes aside, The Locust are undeniably veterans of the noise punk scene, and as such have grown from the material presented here. The modus operandi at this point in The Locust’s career was simple: uncompromisingly short, unapologetically aggressive and thoroughly weird. It’s a desperately charming mix, even for the uninitiated, and easy to see why tracks like “Moth Eaten Deer Head” and “Hairspray Suppository” would be required listening for those teenage moments of rage due for a soundtrack.
However, the album’s more interesting moments lay in hearing The Locust grow as a band. Something like “Flight of the Wounded Locust” is still strange and off-putting, with it’s driving and pinging synthesizers, but it still takes the listener to a different place than a considerable amount of their output. As usual, a large percentage of these forty-four tracks have two speeds: breakneck and dead stop. The songs are either rushing you like an amphetamine fueled mutant, or dead on the ground from a panicked blast of ultra-violence. That is their thing. To be sure, many of these songs do little to differentiate themselves from the other songs—or similar songs in the noise genre. And even if we don’t see a drastic change in style in The Locust, as exemplified in bands like Meat Puppets and Hüsker Dü in the early to mid 1980s, the conviction with which The Locust approach all things uncompromising assures fan and fellow alike they can never be sure what might happen when they put on one of their records.
As a historical document, Molecular Genetics from the Gold Standard Labs does give glimpses into the future of The Locust. While there is nothing here as crafted and downright ambitious as 2005’s Safety Second, Body Last, it is apparent these fellows were clever (check the song titles) and inspired enough (check their live performances) to move into more adventurous directions as the years rolled on, and did so without ever losing the awe-inspiring ferocity that remains their trademark.