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Laughing Stock: The Island

Norwegian band Laughing Stock has roots dating back to 1978 when Jan Mikael Sørensen met Håvard Enge in their formative years. After various bands and projects and the introduction of a third friend, Laughing Stock was born in 2016 and released their debut The Island in 2018. Their sophomore effort Sunrise, their first for Apollon Records, was released in 2019. Their third album, which came out in 2020, is the subject of this review. It is actually a new version of their debut record as the band has given it a complete overhaul, redoing many of the tracks.

This is a new band for me but being from Norway, a country that produces great bands it seems on a yearly basis, my interest was piqued. The band play something akin to progressive rock with a myriad of other influences and styles entering the mix. The title track opens the disc with a wistful melancholy that encapsulates the mournful side of the band. It’s a beautiful melody with gentle guitar and vocals until the guitars get heavier making for a dramatic change up before the serene soundscape unfolds once again. “That Face” has a sort of electrified alt country vibe where the band finds its inner twang but also allows the guitar to soar as well as channeling denser, heavier riffage. A shimmering keyboard and a delightful acoustic guitar begin “Descension”, giving it a folk feel. Then the gentle caresses of keyboards and guitar make way for a heavier Pink Floyd inspired moment in what is, at least for me, an album highlight.

For a more cutting sound try “Vultures, Bats And Reptiles” with its sinister sounding beginning merging into edgy guitar work and Floydy mannerisms. Sublime softness and heavier chords will take you on an unforgettable trip through your senses. For a reference point think Animals era Floyd.

The Island is an excellent indie prog release that continues to grow and unfold with each successive play. Highly recommended!

The band:
Jan Mikael Sørensen (vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards)
Håvard Enge (vocals, keyboards, flute)
Jan Erik Kirkevold Nilsen (vocals, guitars)

Track Listing:
1. The Island (3:14)
2. That Face (5:40)
3. Descension (4:10)
4. Vultures, Bats And Reptiles (10:42)
5. The Party’s Over (3:04)
6. Canyon Crawlers (6:36)
7. Fallen Star (3:06)
8. Who We Are (7:10)
9. 30 Years (7:48)
Bonus Tracks
10. Return To Darkness
11. Nothing More

Added: October 18th 2021
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Band's Official Site
Hits: 874
Language: english

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