Lucid Culture


CD Review: The Larch – Gravity Rocks

Their best album, a nebulously thematic collection of futuristic songs imbued with the band’s usual tongue-in-cheek wit but more melodic and catchier than ever. If there’s any criticism of this band, it’s that on previous albums, they’d be too good at what they do: you want a song like Elvis Costello? They’d do one exactly like him, or the Kinks, or the Soft Boys, and do it well, and completely avoid putting any kind of stamp on it that could be called their own. But not here. Finally, guitarist/frontman Ian Roure – a sensationally good, fast soloist, equal parts Richard Lloyd and Ron Asheton – finally succumbs to temptation and gives himself the chance to cut loose with a whole bunch of wildly frenetic yet tastefully bluesy solos over the rhythm section’s period-perfect, slightly jittery new wave rhythms.

The cd opens with the title track, an instrumental that sounds straight out of the Joe Meek catalog featuring one of Roure’s signature, lightning-fast runs down the scale. The next cut, Return of the Chimera is a catchy pop song speculating on the downside of genetic engineering, capped by a scorchingly majestic Roure solo out. Driven by WonderWheels frontwoman Liza Garelik’s cheery organ, Accidental Planet reverts to the Larch’s trademark early 80s feel. Extreme Ape extremely apes a classic Elvis Costello lick.

The best song on the cd is the hilarious, slightly Ray Davies-inflected, self-explanatory Cell Phone or Schizo. That’s Where You’re Wrong, Carruthers is two drunks in a British pub, early 80s style. With its ridiculously hooky two-chord vamp on the chorus, Copernican Principle celebrates the triumph of science over stupidity. Red Planet Express opens like the Church, layers of portentous guitar before the verse kicks in, reverting with deliciously textured overdubs, jangling, crying and punching along on the solo. This album makes a great present for anyone who loves classic songwriting from the golden age of punk and new wave but has already downloaded every available track by Costello, the Adverts, or Dave Edmunds. Or the Act. Or the Tourists (ok, you get the picture).

May 13, 2008 - Posted by | Music, Reviews

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