THE LAURELS‘ debut Plains has been long-awaited. I, my colleagues, my friends, have sat around with bated breath to hear the first few tracks from the album. Now we’ve got the whole thing and we’re pretty gosh darn stoked.
How can you be part of the action? In some stores the album is already out. Holy shit. You could’ve picked it up on July 1 at the Rice is Nice party. You might find it in your nearest independent record store. Who knows? But on July 16 you can definitely take it home with you- on CD, vinyls not out ’til late August. You can take it home and argue with me in the comments about the songs that are in fact truest to the shoegaze sounds of The Laurels.
Having spent the year touring with some pretty rad acts like say Pond (oh, we were at that show, weren’t we?) and continuing to do (coming up: Band of Skulls), we’ve heard a fair amount of these tracks already. Live, at least. And I’m not going to go into the opening two tracks because we’ve already showcased them: ‘Tidal Wave‘ and ‘Changing the Timeline.‘ Nope, instead we’re skipping straight into the heart of the album.
‘Traversing the Universe’ makes the most of effects pedals, adding a psychedelic twinge to the middle of each verse and to the crux of the yawning chorus. ’The City is Coming Down’ feels like a classic indie pop tune. It’s got the chords and moody crooning from Luke O’Farrell that mirror the greats of the genre, yet it seems to be a stray away from the kind of energy we’ve come to expect from this four-piece. This slowed-down sound continues throughout ’Glacier,’ showcasing Piers Cornelius’ wealth of guitar-based talent. The jangle in the bridge is the high point of this track.
The peak of the album is ‘Manic Saturday.’ It’ll have you on your feet before you even remember that it’s the middle of the week and Saturday is oh so far away. The song is layered and upbeat, thanks to Kate Wilson on drums. Each song flows easily into the next, especially interesting in the case of ’Mesozoic,’ the title track from last year’s debut EP. It’s the harmonies and the psychedelic static in the background that make ’One Step Forward (Two Steps Back)’ into a perfectly polished song.
‘Sway Me Down Gently’ and closer ‘A Rival’ wind the album back down, ending on a high note. It finishes the album with a quiet psychedelic number, with bass from Conor Hannan that courses slowly through you. It’s the end to an accomplished first record. It’s a winner. Especially the final guitar solo.
However Plains doesn’t quite capture the manic intensity of a Laurels live show. It’s all very well-produced and sharp. But where’s the madcap abandon? And don’t even try to sing along. Just throw your head around a bit.
Why don’t you check out the full album stream on Rdio?
Words by Hannah Story.