Against floods and a few other odds, the long awaited debut album from The Laurels is ready for release. “Plains”, so named for the Patrick White Literary Award winning novel of the same title will be available for your purchasing and listening pleasure on July 13th.
It is a rare boon for the consumer to score the double wammy purchase/listen pleasure in a single album. You will be thrilled with excitement to hand over the cash and even more thrilled once you listen to the product. Recorded in two bursts over 10 days The Laurels decided to reveal what had been shielded behind their live wall of white noise in the recording of Plains. Producer Liam Judson (Belles Will
Ring, Cloud Control), who helped with the recording of their acclaimed 2011 debut EP Mesozoic, was the man to dismantle The Laurels' wall of sound brick by brick.
A quote from the novel The Plains by Gerald Murnane sums up the theme of the album perfectly "I kept my eyes open. I looked for anything in the landscape that seemed to hint at some elaborate meaning behind appearances."
The sonic genius of this album lies in the fact that whilst listening to it I had no idea what the song titles were. I wrote as I listened and was astonished to find that the song titles mirrored what I had written in more than one instance. Any piece music that can be so on the money with its sonic narrative can only be described as genius. Big call, but this album is worthy of it.
First track, "Tidal Wave" commences with dense volumous guitars that smash through an open space, sonically transforming a dry desert into an atmosphere of viscous moisture, then colours it with vocal mountains and guitars that slide across the landscape like oil crayons on glossy paper. "Tidal Wave" is an ingenious sonic landscape painting for your mind.
"Changing the Timeline" is introduced by a guitar that sounds the same as the feeling you would get when biting an electric fence. Delicious sonic vibrations to jerk your brain out of stupor, followed up by a sneering vocal over a "catchy as all get up" thread of riffage. Speaking of catchy riffage, this is a strength all album long with the riffs diverse enough in their composition not to be mistaken for another riff from another track on the same album. I hate it when that happens. Nothing to worry about on that front with this recording.
"Traversing the Universe" commeces with choppy guitars that duck and weave like your eye on
a google map whilst driving a car. Combined with a second guitar soundcape from Mars and vocals that sound as if they were pushed out in a zero gravity setting, this song has a beautiful rhythmic chug that could potentially keep you company as you step off the edge of the universe.
"This City Is Coming Down" mixes it up with a slow, sleepy, easy like Sunday morning style jam that both contradicts and enhances the razor sharp lyrical content. Another winner.
Glacier is an example of one of those instances of genius sonic narrative I was talking about. Imagine walking on slippery ice in thongs ( flip flops, jandals). Feel the constant threat of danger, fear, pain
and dread in the pit of your stomach. Then watch the ice melt away as you focus on the introduction of the drum that leads you on a journey elsewhere.
Just like a "hair of the dog" session the day after a big one " Manic Saturday" gets off to a jerky start becomes manic and then catchy, catchy, catchy. The sonic sound effects conspire with the rhythm guitars and vocals to make you feel lost and found all at once. Love this song.
"Sway Me Down Gently" the second last album track serves up a number of visuals in name alone. Press play and you get a whole lot more from the sonic delivery of a great guitar song. Smokey, hazey, descending chords and a cow bell makes it reminiscent of a soundtrack track to one of Laura Palmers dreams. Add in the Robyn Hitchcock-esque spoken word at the end of the track and you got yourself
one humdinger of a Tom Petty meets The Soft Boys killer track.
This review showcases just a sample of the ten track album. I can't praise the skill, songwriting and production more highly than to say that it is extemely rare for a debut album to spark so brightly with sonic genius as this one does.
The Laurels are:
Piers Cornelius - Guitar / Vocals
Luke O'Farrell – Guitar / Vocals
Conor Hannan – Bass
Kate Wilson - Drums