8.4

Laughing Pack Because It’s True With Power-Pop Harmonies, Country-Rock Twang and Rambling Riffs

The Canadian supergroup’s debut album arrives like a progeny of Built to Spill, Dinosaur Jr., and even Neil Young’s Crazy Horse all while constructing a singular, inspiring voice of its own.

Music Reviews Laughing
Laughing Pack Because It’s True With Power-Pop Harmonies, Country-Rock Twang and Rambling Riffs

If you’ve paid attention to Canadian indie-rock over the past decade, Laughing should be your new favorite supergroup. Based in Montreal, the band’s four members moved to the French Canadian city from their homes in Nova Scotia, Ontario, Manitoba and Vancouver Island, after decades of playing with countless other bands. The quartet (Josh Salter, Laura Jeffery, Cole Woods and André Charles Thériault) trade off vocal and instrumental duties throughout their excellent debut album, Because It’s True, packing their songs with power-pop harmonies, country-rock twang and rambling riffs. For fans of slacker-rock with guitar solos, Laughing should appeal to fans of Pavement, Dinosaur Jr, and Built to Spill. They might even remind your parents of their favorite Neil Young and Crazy Horse records.

Multi-instrumentalist Salter might be best known for playing with Dylanesque indie-rock quartet Nap Eyes—who recently returned with three new songs—but don’t miss his former band Monomyth. Drummer Jeffery formerly thumped the tubs for Fountain, the livewire post-punk band she shared with her brother Evan (now a rising Montreal-based hip-hop producer). Human Music may be the most notable project from prairie-born skateboarder Woods, while Thériault runs a popular pizza joint in Montreal’s Little Italy.

Of course, if you haven’t been clued into Canadian indie rock before reading this review, don’t worry—no table-setting is necessary. Laughing’s 11 songs are as sonically tasty as a slice of Thériault’s pie. However, while Because It’s True isn’t a breakup album per se, the band’s lyrics continually circle back to emotional topics such as heartbreak, loss of self-esteem, and longing for friendship. Salter’s “Bruised” is one of the catchiest woe-is-me anthems to hit the underground charts in ages, with a charming VHS video to match its head-sticking hooks. The twangy “Don’t Care”—with Jeffery on lead vocals—should appeal to fans of contemporary indie-country acts like Dougie Poole or the Courtneys side-project Big Rig, while “Pebble” might be the best song Big Star never wrote.

Elsewhere throughout the album, “Will She Ever Be A Friend Of Mine” is a jangly Monkees-esque sunshine-pop stunner, while the pair of extended, nine-minute-plus songs—“Glue” and twinkly closer “Secret”—conclude with extended instrumental jam-outs. Listening to the lithe interplay between the guitar, bass and drums, it’s clear the quartet have studied their musical history and learned how to toy with timeless songwriting tactics. As a band named for a hilarious Canadian FM radio staple, Laughing knows that rock and roll can never die, because it’s true. Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha…

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