Whilst many artists seem to be too focused on creating the next sound and being first to surf the incoming zeitgeist, and others happier to just repackage the sounds of the past, the really smart artists understand that the place to be is somewhere between the two approaches. Artists such as John Lathrop who makes music under the fabulous name The Stan Laurels.
There Is No Light Without The Dark is a triumph of jangling nostalgia and cutting edge indie cool, the perfect blend of familiarity and exploration, of then and now, analogue sounds and digital sensations, of pop invention and timeless melodies.
Tomorrow is a gorgeously hazy, piece of poised indie-pop, bathed in shimmering Byrdsian beauty and the dreamy shoegaze that their sound helped inspire a decade or so later. Subjects range from the partly autobiographical Florida Man with its joyous riffs and lilting energies to the odd combination of scathing lyrics and gorgeous tones of Red-Hand Puppet, a musing on the departing POTUS. A song made all the more poignant as I write this with news reports on his looming second Senate Trial.
The gentle and languid November, which describes the onset of a panic attack, deftly morphs into a more charging rock and roll beast and Of Wine, Love and Songs turns strange time signatures into a sublime, off-kilter waltz.
It’s an album which covers a lot of ground both lyrically and sonically, juggling comfort zone melodies along side angular experimentation, chiming guitars with synthesised sounds and then covering the whole thing with gossamer grace, translucent, drifting and ever-changing.
But all of the clever sonics would count for nothing, the ebbing and flowing of guitar sheen, the gorgeous vocals, the unsecondguessable (that’s a word, right?) flow of the music, the shoegaze haze and dreaming musical spires if the songs didn’t stand on their own two feet. And all I can say is…boy does John Lathrop know how to pen a tune. And then some!