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LOVE AS LAUGHTER – Laughter’s Fifth (SubPop)

Posted: February 15th, 2005, by Chris Summerlin

Wow. Keep em coming. 2005 is triumphant.
I’ve never really heard LAL before. I’ve heard of them plenty. I know all about their links to Built To Spill and the K empire and the under rated Lync. I had an idea of them as being pretty cool and synthetic sounding. I don’t know why.
Jesus, unless this is a total change of direction for them, I have seriously missed out.
I’ve been listening to Dinosaur Jr a lot lately and that in turn led me to get back into Neil Young in a big way. Wilco’s latest tapped into that in me too and maybe it’s more me than the people making the music but Laughter’s Fifth is on the same track and is every bit as successful at marrying great songs to luscious sonics.
The LAL approach is more lo-fi than Wilco’s but every bit as intuitive at serving these songs the best they can.
Opener In Amber is Neil Young & Crazy Horse to a tee with the guitars sounding euphoric, crunchy and joyfully human over a melody that treads that happy/sad divide just like Uncle Neil did so well on Zuma. But it’s far from pastiche: a lot of bands that get the Neil comparison do so only by using cliched country rock sounds but neglecting to look at the simple art of writing a good verse and a good chorus.
Oh and some good lyrics too.
“I am a ghost and I float throughout your house at parties; flirting with your guests sometimes. They can’t see me, but some have even spoke to me. Yeah, that’s just fine. I’m a real nice guy…for a ghost” (I Am A Ghost).
It’s like a proper album should be, the happy songs are happy with a hint of sadness and the sad songs are heartmelters (I Won’t Hurt You – “I’ve been through paradise and out the other side”) still have a tenderness and optimism.
I don’t want to spend this review comparing LAL to other bands because it implies a magpie nature to the band that detracts from their (huge) skills, but that feeling you used to get with Built To Spill is here in buckets. If you’re a BTS fan you know what I mean: Pavement had it too. Where a band can get away with anything, no matter how cheeky because they’re so good. So one band’s ripoff is another band’s gleeful reference. Canal Street is a Lizzy-styled rowdy singalong and it rules (“I GOT IT ON CA-NAAAL STREET”). It has hand claps, a bassline to dance to, a crazy infectious tune, a Hawaiian guitar solo – what more does anyone want?
Every song is a lesser band’s single, the pop is such high quality and when it rocks it rocks too.
Buy this, see them live at ATP (or in Nottingham whydontcha).
Bring on the next winner…
(Picks Prefection by Cass McCombs out of the bag…)



Chris Summerlin

Chris lives for the rock and can often be seen stumbling drunkenly on (and off) stages far and wide. Other hobbies include wearing jumpers, arsing about with Photoshop and trying to beat the world record for the number of offensive comments made in any 24 hour period. He has been married twice but his heart really belongs to his guitars. All 436 of them.

http://www.honeyisfunny.com

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