Laurence and the Slab Boys - Lo-Fi Disgrace

...this is a classic bedsit record, full of low density guitar phasing, slightly tinny sound effects, woozy textures and other lo fi “patina” bric-a-brac that somehow collide with the singer’s moody disposition.

 

(Grumpy Recordings)

 

This is an attractive LP, if not one that will immediately grab you: as it’s a slow burner in every sense, not looking to flatter the listener with anything other than its core honesty. If you like a straight, sometimes maudlin story then you will like Lo-Fi Disgrace. In fact the LP’s title is very appropriate. It’s a record full of lugubrious and sometimes angry reflections, and one that doesn’t look to express this worldview in terms of any sonic trickery either. No, this is a classic bedsit record, full of low density guitar phasing, slightly tinny sound effects, woozy textures and other lo fi “patina” bric-a-brac that somehow collide with the singer’s moody disposition. It is soulful stuff though, the chord changes in tracks like Mushroom and the eloquent Do For Diamonds go through a change of gears, an “ascend of octave” that hint at a kind of longing for spiritual uplift - or the chance to dish out some soap box rhetoric, I can’t decide which yet. There’s also something in his warm, throaty delivery that reminds me – weirdly enough - of Ricky Ross. Albeit one who’s got a Gothic side to his muse. Check Cry Wolf.

Lo-Fi Disgrace is a lonely record on the whole; not one to stick on at a party. Tracks like Space Dream and Naïve are essentially soliloquies: Hamlet singing about not having any money to buy pasta or go on a bender, or maybe something a lot worse. You do get the feeling that the lad spends a lot of time looking out of his window... At times things do take a noticeably dark turn, as on the murky, slightly grisly Mothers Kiss Your Children, but it’s a graceful record too: K.E.O. has a feeling of the intelligent melancholy that the Go Betweens had and The Fruit That Knew is a slow plod through some Strasse or other – a plod that does open out into a vapour trail of crystalline guitar. Space Dream – number eight in your track listing - is one of the first tracks that kicks up a gear but its beat is insistent, like someone trying to push themselves at the gym rather than a “rhythmic expression” of joy and exuberance.

So it’s not one to woo the girls with over drinks and fondue, but it’s a fine album nonetheless.