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Love As Laughter | Sea To Shining Sea (Sub Pop)
Within two songs of this long awaited second LAL offering, I was considering the possibility that 'Sea To Shining Sea' may unwind to be even better, harder, more intense than 'Relationship of Command' or, why not, 'System of a Down.' But even prior to playing it for the first time, I had worryingly scanned the track times, and pondered what ludicrousness or genius may lie within the ten and a half minutes of closer E.H; the eight and a quarter of Put It Together; the seven of Miss Direction. Etc. Initially experiencing those first two, however, I found myself with damp blobs on my T-shirt all of a sudden. No, it was drool. Coast to Coast sticks the boot in immediately, an instant punk classic of scuzzy and confident riffing and lots of shouting. It's akin to the Trail of Dead jamming with RFTC. Yay-a! Let's fuckin' rock! Even more breathless is Temptation Island, the buried Sam Jayne vocal repeatedly enquiring "Hey! / Are you going back / to para-dise?" over the slicing six-string savagery of Jessica Espeleta's guitar. It spits and kicks, and by now, I was thinking that surely they couldn't keep this up, could they? God, not since Radio Birdman... The drool ropes dried just a tad at the tatty, bruised death-wish blues of Sam Jayne = Dead, the man pleading for someone to shoot him in the head. No, Sam - that's illegal. Next up was a tester - in Put It Together, the first potential epic. Sustaining bewilderingly beautiful prog-punk wonder for the first five minutes, the edge is suddenly lost. Whether parody or irony are involved is unclear, but we now have LAL's very own Champagne Supernova on our hands. My shoulders slumped. They'd blown it. But hey, what's this? A twist follows in the fuzzy, slow-chug country lament of Miss Direction, as fine an example of such stuff you'll hear this side of Jackpot. As stated, it's another sprawler, but somehow, they pull it off. Back on track? After a couple of minutes of the fine example of one way in which human energy can best serve us that is the single, My Case, I was beginning to think so. Again though, it is a song that would be much more effective with a ninety second clipping. Sighing, I sneered at the trippy imagery of, oh dear, Drugachusetts, a psychedelic sludgefest-by-numbers. French Heroin careered along like a bastard, reaffirming just how hard LAL can play - for six minutes - then I gave up the ghost on the accordion embellished The Square; dull and mournful beyond reason. The Olympian champions of the frustrating listen then exit the stadium with flame extinguished, with the very long one. Such a pisser; Sam Jayne gives enough evidence that he and his band are capable of true rock greatness on this hotly anticipated follow up to the lauded 'Destination 2000,' but is in peril of indifference unless he can introduce a certain amount of discipline to his craft. The energy and power cannot be denied, but he should concentrate on the creation of more buzz-rock screamers as the two openers, rather than attempt to attempt to write the emo Supper's Ready.

Tom Sheriff
November 2001