reviewed by Erik Sedore
Part of growing up is the balancing out of your emotions. The edges get sanded off your highs and lows, and you learn to be more content with what you have. At the same time, your roots deepen and you become more comfortable with being who you really are. Laughed The Boy, the 90’s flavoured guitar rock project of Toronto musician Chris Panacci, sets these realizations to music on their new album Here is Fine.
Laughed The Boy follow a pretty consistent formula of setting a limber lead riff against a rough and driving rhythm section, while the vocal tone reminds me of power pop groups like Telekinesis! or early Death Cab For Cutie. On the opening track “Indifferent”, these elements combine for a song about both feeling invisible to who we care about, and neglecting them in turn. “We are just strangers and we let it freak us out”. Sigh, sometimes that’s just the way it is.
The approach of happy music with sad lyrics is turned up a notch on the next number “Autumn”. It opens with whistles and a bouncy rhythm, and calls out those who lack compassion for people who struggle with depression or mental illness. “You think it’s so easy, oh it must be nice.” It’s made complete with a perfectly affirmative chorus and a frenetic, martial outro.
The album lags a bit through the centre, just from lack of variety. “Ice Cream” is pretty typical of this, because while it features some of the album’s coolest clashing guitar work, it drags on a little too much, and lacks the lyrical incisiveness of the better tracks. The exception to this is A-side closer “Double Down”, a tight, pointed repudiation of the unhealthy obsession with the quest for fame. “Thanks for shaking my hand, you could at least walk me back to the drawing board.”
The album closes with “Acutane”, which starts as a gentle lullaby before morphing into a defiant anthem about getting through the days and months and years while keeping it together. I don’t know if this song reflects a personal experience with the acne drug, but I do know that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
Top Tracks: “Indifferent”;”Double Down”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)