The Laurel Collective | 006 | Released: 12/05/08
Where to even start when describing The Laurel Collective…? Collective by name and by composition also, the six piece (whittled down from nineteen a year ago) comprise members hailing from Wales, England, Nigeria and Italy.
The Laurels are a genre trashing six piece led by the twin attack and contrasting vocals of front men Martin Sakutu and Bob Tollast. Imagine the motley crew spirit of such misfit gangs as The Specials and Dexys mixed with the rhythmical assault and groove of Sly Family Stone, and blended with the psychedelic pop sensibilities of Super Furry Animals and you’d be half way there.
The band’s debut mini-album Feel Good Hits of a Nuclear Winter is a psych-pop epic, bristling with energy and ambition, full of made-for-festival sing-a-long choruses and oddball charm.
Through the soulful vocals of Martin and the more wistful deliveries of co-singer Bob, The Laurel Collective deliver skewed, uplifting pop carried on a wave of darkly, humorous lyrics. Add to this, dancehall rhythms and a love of US alt-rock, the band somehow manage to harness a multitude of influences across eight songs, to create a sound that remains focused and quite distinctly their own.
The record opens at breakneck speed with the pop assault of "International Love Affair", before swiftly swerving off into the Hendrix meets Outkast funk-freakisms of "Gun Mouth". Debut single "Vuitton Blues" has the eccentric allure to match its epic ambitions that over the course of four minutes taps into the euphoric spirit of Brian Wilson’s "Teenage Symphony to God".
Though kaleidoscopic throughout, the record never becomes distracted or sounds disjointed: through the common characteristics of Martin and Bob’s duel vocals, the pounding bass rhythms and the band’s ability to write huge, melodic choruses, The Laurel Collective successfully amalgamate the sum of their parts and different origins.
From the muscular opening riffs of "Hercules" through to Olly Puglisi’s fizzing "Modern Life is Rubbish" guitar lines on album closer "Printers", Feel Good Hits of a Nuclear Winter marks The Laurel Collective out as very different, but very exciting new band.