Coming straight outta Glasgow, via Berlin, Laurence Reid has shrugged off the setback of the Cinematics falling apart just after relocating to deliver a slow burner of a debut album. Shimmering, swooping and moody with a Psychedelic Furs meets The House Of Love sound, Lo-fi Disgrace is the sound of a life lived under extremes of emotion and the struggle for equilibrium in a foreign environment (albeit one in which you’re able to construct a studio in your converted loft).
With no histrionics and few fireworks the record’s charms take a couple of listens to reveal themselves but perseverance pays off as you begin to appreciate the subtleties at play. Few of us past a certain age nowadays, at least maybe in western democracies, have the same fears we did during the Cold War of nuclear armageddon but it’s an indicator of how adrift Reid was from the proper comforts of home that this is a topic he covers on ‘Mushroom’, the album’s first song proper and initial single.
Whilst then some of the subject matter may be of a downbeat nature the music surrounding it is a few notches north of melancholia for the bulk of the 11 tracks, managing to maintain hope in the shadow of adversity throughout. Self-producing the work has allowed for freedom of indulgence in the use of found sounds and tinkering with effects on vocals and instruments alike. Where lesser talents may though have diluted the end product with a lack of discipline, Reid’s restraint in terms of the button pushing and knob twiddling side of things is admirable, leading to the overall sound achieved having a net curtain of almost-missed tonal elements hung between the core tunes and the listener at many points.
The Fall are not generally thought of as a jaunty and amusing outfit but Lo-Fi Disgrace’s happiest moments are captured in the song that owes a debt to Mark E. Smith & Co. – ‘Space Dream #2’. The bass part and sound in particular bring the elder band to mind as the continuation of the tale of yesterday’s astronaut plays out. Further shafts of sunlight are provided on the soaring chorus of penultimate track ‘Cry Wolf’ but not enough to suddenly turn things into a soundtrack for the summer. Which, by the time you get to the end of ‘Mothers Kiss Your Children’ you’ll not be in the mood for anyway – contemplation of the bigger things in life is the name of the game, not frivolity.