Reviewed on 10 July 2012
Rated 7 out of 10
Key Track: Tidal Wave, Changing the Timeline, One Step Forward (Two Steps Back)
For over half a decade The Laurels have been regarded as one of Australia’s favourite live bands. Having toured with a slew of national and international psychedelic favourites (Tame Impala, The Black Angels), they’ve gained a strong following for their brand of scuzzy shoegaze. And not just with fans; 2011’s debut EP Mesozoic was lauded by critics, The Age describing them as “one of the most compelling bands around right now.”
It is to this level of ardent anticipation that The Laurels are set to release their debut LP Plains.
Recorded in a makeshift farmhouse studio with Belles Will Ring member Liam Hudson, Plains sees the band furthering their fuzzed-out, wall-of-sound shoegaze as well as broadening their psychedelic palette.
Lead single and album opener ‘Tidal Wave’ is everything great about The Laurels. A squall of guitar white noise builds and swirls before you feel the song “wash over you/ tidal wave”. It’s not music to make you think, it’s music to make you feel; and to that end, The Laurels have always struck a perfect balance.
The rest of the album never quite hits the same high, but there are plenty of things to get excited by throughout.
‘Changing the Timeline’ finds the band toying with BRMC swagger, albeit with a more blissed-out chorus. ‘This City is Coming Down’ and ‘Manic Saturday’ see the band engaging with Nuggets-era psychedelia, sounding closer to the current flock of San Franciscan- garage revivalists than the shoegaze heavyweights the band has often been likened to.
The album succeeds where other great live acts have failed; in not only capturing the power of their live show – a balance between melody and sheer power – but in pronouncing the subtleties of The Laurels’ melodies which underpin their brand of noise. With a mainstream audience all too interested in Australian psychedelic music, The Laurels may find a lot more ears ready for their brand of noise this time around.
- Alastair Matcott
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