Album Review: LSD’s ‘Labrinth, Sia & Diplo Present… LSD’

Great as they may look on paper, supergroups can be a Clash of the Alphas, an ego pileup where the listener can practically hear the musical elbows being thrown. And while that was certainly possible with LSD — a supergroup comprised of veteran hitmakers Sia (who’s written and/or produced songs for Rihanna, Katy Perry, Britney), Diplo (Beyonce, MIA, Justin Bieber) and Labrinth (The Weeknd, Nicki Minaj, Kygo) — what’s remarkable is how smoothly they work together, and how much genuine pleasure the three seem to take in this collaboration.

That’s not particularly surprising for a couple of reasons: While all three are well known as artists, songwriters and producers, all three are also chronic collaborators — Sia has worked with both of them in the past, most prominently with Diplo on her 2014 hit “Elastic Heart.” The trio also released one of 2018’s most irresistible singles — “Thunderclouds,” made ubiquitous by a Samsung ad last summer — and while nothing else on LSD’s debut album approaches that one’s brilliance (hey, not many recent songs do), there are several gems in its nine tracks.

Many of these songs were released in advance, and most of them work better in the context of this album than as singles. “Angel in Your Eyes” has a playful melody cast over a blipping electronic rhythm; “Genius” (also included as a superfluous remix featuring Lil Wayne) has a stately musical track that recalls many Sia songs; the closing “It’s Time” is a heartfelt Sia ballad.

But even for a casual listener, a large part of the album’s appeal is the way the three share the spotlight, and the way their sonic trademarks come to the fore. Sia and Labrinth are both stellar singers, so there’s plenty of his soaring melodies and her sky-scraping yelps and whoops and cooed verses; they trade verses frequently. Likewise, both Labrinth and Diplo have strong Caribbean influences in their work, but very different ones: the former tends toward reggae through the lens of his British homeland, while the latter is more dancehall and ska-influenced, with a jaunty bounce in his rhythms and embellishments like the mariachi horns in “Thunderclouds.” Their mutual respect and production skills ensure that they rarely get in each other’s way.

Be all of that as it may, it seems near-miraculous that these three profoundly in-demand and overscheduled artists were able to complete this album at all, so we should probably make the most of “LSD” and not hold our collective breath for the follow-up.

Album Review: LSD's 'Labrinth, Sia & Diplo Present... LSD'

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