You would be forgiven for thinking that Night Driver, the debut album from Laser, would be a throbbing, Kavinskian techno effort – what with that neon-hued cover art and allusions to guys in scorpion jackets. However, Night Driver subverts that expectation. Its primary creative force is Lisa Lobsinger, longtime contributor to Broken Social Scene and Reverie Sound Revue. In fact, the album sounds most like the disco-lit latter day efforts of Lobsinger’s one-time BSS bandmate Amy Millan in her work with Stars. However, it’s her own voice and character that steps into the spotlight here.
Night Driver is warm, mellow and groovy, anchored by Lobsinger’s sweet vocal tones and a palette of live drums and guitar textures woven between the synths. The full-band feel gives the songs a sense of dimension and tactility that goes beyond standard programmed loops.
The clash of cool and warm tones on the album cover does a lot to describe the music of Laser – Lobsinger’s lyrics exude charm and level-headedness while the instrumentation of songs like “Disco Night Driver” and “Leaving It Too Late” heats up the overall vibe. “Do We All Feel It” is more traditionally electronic, building on the relentless sixteen-step march of sequencers – it balances grinding bass edge with vaporous melodies in a glittering set of dance floor patterns, though its outro section swings a little too far toward ironic-retro DX7 blippity-bleep territory. “Disconnect” is a standout – the staccato guitars and snare hits match perfectly against swirling space pads and languorous vocals. “Bleed You” and “Maniacs” evoke 80s electronic textures to a slavishly devoted extent – however, they close the record on a four-to-the-floor set of cadences that lacks the subtlety of the album’s opening tracks.
Night Driver turns out to be aptly named – it’s a record that fades into a sparkling background of taillights and bokeh, cool air and warm leather. There’s an effervescence to the songs here that will be refreshing, and enough creative and musical depth for us to hold on to without it all evaporating.
Top Tracks: “Disco Night Driver,” “Leaving It Too Late,” “Disconnect.”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)