April 18, 2024

Laurels

You know line dancing is the fastest growing recreational activity in the UK?

Which explains Calexico, swaying the young of the nation to sleep and the general rise in popularity in leftfield americana over the past few years.

Dont get me wrong, there’s been some genuinely soulful stuff flying about. Mr Oldham and Smog can stick around long after their visas have expired, but as far as the mass America by Numbers sentiment goes, I think I might have reached achy breaking point.

Which is why taking the audio delorian back 7 years to the Laurel’s deliciously warped garage blues is a fairly enjoyable round trip.

Recorded in the post grunge badlands of the mid nineties, Laurels has the air of languid impotence and bottled up boredom of Mudhoney’s ‘Touch Me I’m Sick’, but comes with the added wryness of good old fashioned rock n roll.

Vocals steer their way Crampswards rather than to Nirvanaland, and nods towards the timeless fuckadelia of Big Black come in the form of Steve Albini, who makes his presence on the mixing desk felt in more ways than just compressed guitar squall and oceans of reverb.

I think theres a vocoder in there. Or he might be singing down a length of pipe. Yeah thats it, pipe.

Nowhere are the truckstops of mid America more audible than in “Ruby”.

It’s pure big black in attitude, a kind of pissed off impressionist sketch of monotony, misogyny and a burning afternoon sun.

Still the cowboy hat looks a bit stupid, and there’s a fair bit of posturing on this album. Not least in “TV Whore”, which before the blistering break, comes in pure ‘Slint plays theme from Shaft’ .

And then on “Liebschen”, ‘Slint plays Galaxie 500’ . I did want to avoid the rock equation in this review and go on about caustic atlantic winds, and sea ravaged powerchords, but come on; In ’96 rock equations, along with making up your pornstar name were a good way of passing the time.

Ok. let’s mix the two: Laurels is like an ageing rock slut. You don’t actually get down to anything serious, but when she’s left the car with your money you realise that it was worth it, if only for the stories she told and the smile left on your face. Line up in line indeed.

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