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Laughter’s Fifth – Love as Laughter’s Finest Album Yet

Posted by May 26th, 2005 No Comments »

This album cover is totally trippy dude, like you could just torch a big bong rip and stare at it forever.Love as Laughter
Laughter’s Fifth
By Dominic Aulisio

Laughter’s Fifth is an album for sundown. It feels best at the edge of a sun-weary day, the music brimming in disappearing light and the watercolor beauty of a quiet ascent to midnight.

On it, frontman singer/songwriter Sam Jayne has refined his lyrical persona–the heartbroken, romantic underdog–with grace and restraint. Age and experience have given way to create Love as Laughter’s finest album yet.

Laughter’s Fifth simmers in the beginning, its first three tracks slipping along in the slow burn of cigarette smoke. By the time the album eases its way into the anthemic strains of “Every Midnight Song,” it has taken off without your realizing it. While nothing here approaches the daft brilliance of “Miss Direction” from 2001’s “Sea to Shining Sea,” this album moves in ways where “Shining Sea” stuttered and stopped. The band is tighter here, more focused, perhaps bonded by a closeness forged in the claustrophobic beauty of life in New York tempered by a spirit that seems thankfully rooted in the haunts of the Northwest.

This album cover is totally trippy dude, like you could just torch a big bong rip and stare at it forever.Love as Laughter
Laughter’s Fifth
By Dominic Aulisio

Laughter’s Fifth is an album for sundown. It feels best at the edge of a sun-weary day, the music brimming in disappearing light and the watercolor beauty of a quiet ascent to midnight.

On it, frontman singer/songwriter Sam Jayne has refined his lyrical persona–the heartbroken, romantic underdog–with grace and restraint. Age and experience have given way to create Love as Laughter’s finest album yet.

Laughter’s Fifth simmers in the beginning, its first three tracks slipping along in the slow burn of cigarette smoke. By the time the album eases its way into the anthemic strains of “Every Midnight Song,” it has taken off without your realizing it. While nothing here approaches the daft brilliance of “Miss Direction” from 2001’s “Sea to Shining Sea,” this album moves in ways where “Shining Sea” stuttered and stopped. The band is tighter here, more focused, perhaps bonded by a closeness forged in the claustrophobic beauty of life in New York tempered by a spirit that seems thankfully rooted in the haunts of the Northwest.

Jayne’s trademark flair for off-kilter description is buoyed here with shades of the finest of Americana/garage rock troubadours and their sound. Throughout the record, Jayne and guitarist Brandon Angle’s riffs echo the muffled lawnmower buzz of “Greendale”-era Neil Young. Potential single track “Dirty Lives” reminds of all the better qualities of Tom Petty. “Every Midnight Song” opens with the thick bass and distant guitar of a Velvet Underground tune, building to a furious, unfettered power pop climax. “I Won’t Hurt You” boasts the ghostly harmonies of the Shins. Even “Corona Extra”–a playful, acoustic, late album number, co-written by Jayne and Angle—sounds like a hung-over reply to the delicate “Tonight You Belong to Me” from Steve Martin’s “The Jerk,” complete with an accomplished kazoo solo.

If it treads in reminiscent territory, the album never sounds like it is copping to a style or paying some sort of homage. The credit in that regard belongs to Jayne, who seems to have found himself as a composer. He blends wit with empathy. His imagery can be evocative, his perspective unique, yet he never falls prey to cryptic esotery or idiosyncrasies.

Jayne is the glue here, quietly carving his independent niche among America’s best singer/songwriters, humming safely with his bruised heart beneath the radar of overexposure. Let’s hope he can keep brooding from the back-alley fire escape with his poetic eye firmly fixed upon the setting sun. – (7.5/10)


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