October 4, 2001

Test Spins: Love As Laughter

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From the first strains of the anthemic opener “Coast to Coast,” Love As Laughter easily grabs attention. With a winning formula of strained but melodic vocals, chunky guitar riffs, and melodies guaranteed to stick to your memory neurons for weeks, the song is 4 minutes of pure rough indie-pop at its best. Drawing inspiration from Americana rockers like Bruce Springsteen, as well as from the Beach Boys and David Bowie, these 10 cuts form a tight collection of raw hooks and unrelenting guitar-led rocking out.

On the eerily-titled “Sam Jayne=dead,” singer Sam Jayne belts, “shoot me in the head, man” as jumpy, folksy guitar glides around his voice. “Miss Direction” kicks off with a plodding rhythm and grinding guitars that slowly build up over 7 minutes. The 10-minute epic closer “E.H.” builds even more slowly on Jayne’s impassioned, offkey vocals and a bed of wandering guitar.

Sea to Shining Sea is a remarkably consistent album, well-informed by the history of American rock, but creating a unique new sound from these influences.

Archived article by Ed Howard