Mike Lust Credit: Ryan Bardsley

Full disclosure: Mike Lust has recorded a handful of records I’ve played on. I also played in a band with him for a while. But there are probably a few hundred local musicians who could say the same thing. Between his prolific career as a recording engineer, his nearly 20-year tenure as the high-kicking, guitar-shredding front man for local outfit Tight Phantomz, his countless stints as a sideman for all sorts of punk and rock bands, and his reliable presence as a larger-than-life, always-on, out-and-about personality, Lust is ubiquitous not only in Chicago music but in Chicago life. His decades of solid musical output have led to his first-ever solo record, Demented Wings, out June 18 on long-running local DIY label Forge Again. Coming from such an over-the-top character, this collection of simple, introspective pop music is a pleasant and welcome surprise. Performed almost entirely by Lust, the mostly minimal songs on Demented Wings include warm, fuzzy, lo-fi forays into synth pop, introspective plays at shoegaze, and catchy takes on bedroom psych. Lead single “Danceteria,” which is anchored by a straightforward keyboard melody and mellow, hooky vocals that sound a bit like Bob Pollard, could play on a loop for an hour and I’d be thrilled. The stomp of “Chrome Intentions” hints at the kind of sleazy swagger you’d expect from Lust, while album highlight “Distort It, Pony” sounds like it could be a lost Ride demo. An album this heartfelt was the last thing I expected from someone as out-there as Mike Lust—a guy I once saw spike a bass guitar onto the venue floor from the stage. These songs can easily get stuck in your head, which is par for the course for Lust, but they also feel deep and sweet, which definitely isn’t—and that just goes to prove he can do it all.   v