Sunday, December 7, 2008

What Laura Says - Thinks and Feels

Thinks and Feels
What Laura Says
August 19, 2008

What Laura Says. Thinks and Feels. What Laura says, thinks, and feels! I get it! The artists formerly known as What Laura Says Thinks and Feels released their debut album in 2006 to what I hope was enough acclaim to encourage them to continue.

Apparently, Laura had a lot to say, think, and feel. And by a lot to say, think and feel, I mean they hauled in a dump truck full of quirks, twists, and whims, emptied them into a 1 pixel by 1 pixel mp4 file, and assorted them into perfectly harmonized chaos. And by chaos, of course I mean that What Laura Says has displayed the dexterity of ear of Edgar Allan Poe and the resourcefulness of Sam Beam from Iron & Wine. By resourcefulness, I naturally am noting the vast collection of sounds, ranging from bongos to hand claps to (insert apprx. 30 household objects here) to barbershop quartet vocals, all anthologized into one diverse record. And by diverse, I imply that each successive track sounds absolutely nothing like the previous one. And now, without further ado, I present to you a mini-rant that is loosely connected to this album review.

One of the most common critiques of debut albums is that the band in question “doesn’t have a definitive sound” or “doesn’t know what it wants to sound like.” Nothing infuriates me more than this. What if, perhaps, in a crazily experimental move, a band wanted to make a diverse album? Maybe, as if from a parallel universe, somebody didn’t want to make 11 songs that sound the same. It’s radical, but if there are bands out there willing to guinea pig the idea, I’m willing to try it out. (Exeunt ranting.)

Lyrically, this band isn’t breaking down any walls, but it doesn’t slack in the quirkiness department. “Your eyelids sparkle and get heavy / And you stick your tongue out / ‘Dot dot dot’ you keep repeating / It isn't like I'll be gone long.” Hm. Well then. I couldn’t say that particular scene has happened to me before, but I wouldn’t doubt that the members of What Laura Says are indeed transcendental beings whose daily lives include dialogue such as this.

When listening to this album, it is hard to put everything into words. A studied and masterful artist of descriptions could not know where to begin to dissect What Laura Says. I find it easier to relate it to an expansive, loosely defined idea of which readers can make whatever they will. In this light, let’s call What Laura Says the musical transcription of the city streets scene in August Rush, where August absorbs the urban setting for the first time and converts every sound he hears into musical perfection. See? A very easy thought for me to convey as the lazy writer, and an adjustable concept for you to mold as the half-interested reader.

Anyway, I think I’ve lashed the highlights of this album into this review enough times. It’s doubtful that anyone at this point is going to expect uniformity at any point in this album, and that’s a good thing. If being unique and providing a fresh bite to the music pie is good enough to get noticed, What Laura Says should have a happy future in front of them.

Recommended if you like: sound, Animal Collective, Iron & Wine

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