When Laura Veirs’ seventh album July Flame was released back in 2010, I was struck with what a quietly reverent LP the American singer-songwriter had penned. It was as if Veirs had taken what was ostensibly the subject of her album – the natural world – and raised it to some kind of mythological level in order to properly get to grips with the celebration of the thing. This stemmed from the way the musical and lyrical aspects of each little paean slotted together so snugly – Veirs had essentially directed the aesthetic power of her music at something, and made the album work.
Considering all them weighty comparisons with the likes of Portishead and Cocteau Twins that Laki Mera have garnered in their nine-year-stint, the Laura Veirs of July Flame would seem like a peculiar comparison. Nonetheless, she is, in fact, precisely the artist that the Glaswegian trio channel on their third LP, the Atwood-quoting Turn All Memory to White Noise.
Yes you can catch the relics of more exciting influences – 'In The Tunnel', for example, would have been at ease on the front-end of Cliff Martinez’ Drive soundtrack – but the mainstay of the album is the sort of reverb-laced guitar platitudes and unusually stilted (though it must be said, unusually flawless) vocal lines that characterised much of July Flame.
These sounds are far from irksome, and Laki Mera make music which is undoubtedly pleasing to the ears. I mean, you can hardly knock Laura Donnelly’s low-tempo crooning, and even the overblown lyrical content of ‘Sweet Warm Dance’ and ‘Red Streak-Cut Sky’ (“Descend down into a shimmering diamond web/ floating in the darkness”) is refused the power to render those tracks obtuse.
Unfortunately, though, that's also the problem here – Turn All Memory to White Noise is far too obsessed with sounding pleasing.
Turn All Memory to White Noise is so preoccupied with rounding down every one of its own edges that it forgets the fact that all music needs to assert itself. There’s not a hint of roughness here, and it’s as if the whole LP was too busy considering its own production to remember it should be celebrating nature and loneliness and humanity and all its other subject matters.
There are exceptions, as ever – in fact Turn All Memory to White Noise can be redeemingly, frustratingly wonky at times. ‘In The Tunnel’, the highlight of the LP, begins all invasive videogame synths and pattering drum machines before opening out into spoken word, and finally descending towards the in-your-face synth stutter of its breakdown. And ‘Come Alone’ clanks and shudders through its five minutes like the opener to a totally different, far more abrasive album of electronica.
In fact, it’s at these moments when energy seems to be released that Turn All Memory to White Noise really celebrates. At these points, when the tracks are at their least self-aware, most electronic, but also most organic, Laki Mera feel like a band you’d genuinely root for.
6Josh Suntharasivam's Score