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Laughing Stock: Zero Acts 1 & 2

One of my favourite new-ish progressive rock bands of recent times has to be Laughing Stock. Their latest album is titled Zero Acts 1 & 2, released on Apollon Records. This time around the band has created a conceptual piece centered on our protagonist called Zero, a boy who feels worthless and alone. It’s a compelling story and one that unfortunately, may touch way to close to home for some. On the back of the CD booklet the band states, “But maybe you do know him? He could be your best friend’s son. He could also be a co-worker in your department store. He may even be you.”

As you can imagine, the music accompanying the story is not exactly upbeat but that is precisely how it should be. A lot of thought and care went into this album, and it shows on every track beginning with the album opening “Welcome” with its beautifully flowing groove and soft musical layers. “When Darkness Comes” is all very subdued and wistful with a slow and very meaningful electric guitar, along with acoustic touches as well. “Nighttime” has a mellow Floyd vibe going on while “Imaginary Friend” demonstrates the fragility of being human as the music is drenched in somber strings and a plaintive melody. Porcupine Tree comes to mind in the lovely “School” where acoustic and electric guitar are integrated smoothly into the soundscape and dramatic shifts with heavier motifs add more detail to the story. Again, the vocals, both backing and lead, is an album highlight. More Floyd crops up in the moody “Leave Me Alone” featuring the wonderful lead vocals of Helene Håberg Allum as the voice of Mother. It also features one of the heaviest moments on the disc.

The story isn’t yet completed as there would seem to be Acts 3 & 4 in the works. If the first is any indication the follow up will certainly be something to look forward to. Easily recommended, especially for those searching for a more nuanced approach.

Track Listing:
1. Welcome (2:27)
2. When Darkness Comes (4:39)
3. Nighttime (6:25)
4. Imaginary Friend (4:06)
5. School (3:33)
6. Child (4:12)
7. Leave Me Alone (4:44)
8. My Love Pt. 1 (4:05)
9. My Love Pt. 2 (4:13)
10. Last Supper (3:32)
11. Zero (4:31)
12. Curtain Falls (1:48)

Added: January 6th 2022
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Band @ Bandcamp
Hits: 694
Language: english

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