laughingstock - Is This Being Vulnerable? - Download (2020)

Labels: self released
Review by: Samuel Rogers

Here’s a review I meant to write at the start of the pandemic. Having lived with it for a year, I can
hum along to this whole record. It’s the self-released sophomore album from a Washington four-
piece. Their sound is broadly a mix of indie rock and modern emo. They open with a slow-burn
marriage of Midwest guitars and crisp pop refrains, evoking wide-open summer nights of
heartbreak. But their opening gambit doesn’t capture the full range of the band’s influences and
ideas. Across the ten tracks, we go from piano-driven soft rock to driving guitars and shouted
pronouncements. We rock out to bar-room blues anthems; we sway along to acoustic ballads. One
of the highlights, “Girls in the Ivies” slips a menacing post-punk riff into ’90s alt-rock.

Whilst it sounds miscellaneous on paper, the elements are held together by this talented group of
multi-instrumentalists and songwriters. The vocals are tightly controlled and dynamic, while the
lyrics are full of neat turns of phrase. In answer to the title: yes, there is vulnerability here, but also
cocksure indie swagger. This review may not have been worth the wait, but the album itself
definitely was. It stands up to repeated listens, as I can testify first-hand.