Album review: "The Lovings ('63-'69)"
Laughing Man has achieved what most bands only hope to with a debut album - landing on an instantly distinctive sound. "The Lovings ('63-'69)" is a brief introduction to the local trio, with just seven songs clocking in at 23 minutes, but that's plenty of time to get properly acquainted.
Singer-guitarist Brandon Moses is the star of the album, his expressive wail correctly serving as the focal point on every song. He alternately barks and croons, always overflowing with charisma and regularly elongating syllables with a quivering excitability. Add to that a generous helping of distortion that muffles his words, and his voice is unmistakable.
Musically the band plays it loose and limber, landing on some sort of blues-folk-jazz-rock hybrid. They play sped-up dirges, songs that succeed thanks to a casual swing rather than exact precision. Guitars are choppy and the rhythm section isn't always in lock step, but songs such as "Blueberry Bees" and "Love Language" are designed for a bit of freewheeling fun. Closing track "Mood & Dress" hints at what could be - the band breaks out of its comfort zone for a more low-key vibe while adding string flourishes and backing vocals and bringing percussion into the mix for only the last 30 seconds. It's the most dynamic track and still keeps the ragged energy that defines the album.
- David Malitz, Jan. 2011