The La Elsby Roger Young / 19.05.2011
The La El’s debut five track EP of disco retro rock comes in at about four and a half tracks too long. It’s a random collection of “retro” sonic concepts and words in search of actual songs. The La Els won the Global Moguls band search competition and this EP is presumably the result. It’s telling that the competition was centred not just on the music but, in a large part, on how the bands marketed themselves as The La Els comes across as a brand rather than a band.
It starts off strong with “Dirty Disco”‘s driving rock beat and updated funk sequencing but the time the chorus kicks in, it’s clear that that’s all there is to the track. It lacks hooks; vocal or otherwise and seems to be more a mish mash of sounds that The Els thought would come off as cool than an actual song. Jonas Barausse’s vocoda-edged voice shouting repetitive lyrics, pulsing sounds via the late eighties, plucky guitar and tricksy cutesy electronic bleeping of the sort that makes jocks do the John Travolta. Also using the word “boogie”? That’s so retro. Yawn. “Soul Killer” is a collection of different sounds. More rocky, more guitar, less sequencing, still no actual song. Some falsetto-ing of the song title seems to be an attempt at a hook; again the kind of cheap move that gets the granddad dancing at a wedding.
The third track is “I’m Not Trying”. At least they admit it. It’s a return to the sound of the first track. Random squelchy sounds try to hide the fact that Barausse is merely shouting words he found on the box of a Jim Morrison action figure. A chorus is abandoned in favour of a guitar assault-lite.
Fire is the closest to an actual song. With the same sorts of sounds as the previous track but with a late house music beat and much more Barausse shouting. By this stage it’s clear that he’s the weak link in the band, but that’s not to say the rest of the band is actually any good. It sounds like someone shouting rejected Bruce Springsteen lyrics over a discarded outtake from Flashdance.
Track Five: “Love Slave”. Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear.
“Romancer”. Is the sixth track. I didn’t listen to it.
It’s an over-energized empty collection of ineptly borrowed ideas badly put together by Truworths indie musicians who clearly have never heard of anything else other than 4/4 time. All in all it sounds like a rushed effort from a band of competition winners who bought the company line and thought style would triumph over substance. At least I’m hoping that’s the case because if this EP is a considered move, well, see my comments on track five.