Monday, April 04, 2005

Love as Laughter


The Strokes and The White Stripes didn’t begin the American retro renaissance. It was spearheaded years before with bands like Seattle’s Love As Laughter. Now based in New York they’re rewriting the Stones and The Velvet Underground, but throwing in a healthy dose of Sonic Youth. Laughter... is described as ‘gritty, solo-rich classic rock’n’roll’, but it’s not exactly Thin Lizzy. Their fifth release, Laughter’s Fifth, recollects the sounds of T-Rex, My Morning Jacket and early Tom Petty; hinting at classic rock but with a good understanding of left-leaning artrock. Song-writer Sam Jayne worked with Beck on One Foot in the Grave and recently toured with Modest Mouse, including an appearance on Saturday Night Live.

Laughter’s Fifth is a little rough around the edges. It has a great authentic home-grown feel captured by the five-month recording period in a Delaware basement. The songs developed through long, pressure-free days jamming through Sam’s acoustic ideas, and it pays off. The whole record feels like recording was a lot of fun. At the end of Canal Radio you can hear the band joking, laughing and discussing Weezer songs. Each track speaks of dirty tricks, miscommunication, regret, bathroom graffiti and misadventure. Sam sings tongue-in-cheek on the heartbroken I Won’t Hurt You, as he knows he can, and most likely will. Opening track In Amber and later Pulsar Radio, stand out as text-book pop songwriting. Other tracks sound a little too first-take, there are some bum-notes and off-key singing, but it carries on where 2001’s Sea to Shining Sea left, confirming Love As Laughter as a criminally under-rated trio.

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