Graded on a Curve: Lauds,
Imitation Life

The 5-piece Lauds hail from Wilmington, NC and Imitation Life is their debut album, its ten songs emanating from the indie pop, jangle pop, and ’80s Alt-rock zone, with the playing energetic and lean. It’s unusually strong for a debut, and what it lacks in originality is more than made up for with the focus and drive of the whole. The 135 gram vinyl in a hand numbered limited edition of 100 appears to be sold out, but hopefully Fort Lowell Records will order a repress. In the meantime, the digital is available on Bandcamp.

Lauds consists of Gavin Campbell, Boyce S. Evans, J Holt Evans III, James McKay Glasgow, and Ross Page. Glasgow and Evans III are the songwriters, with the former a guitarist and lead vocalist and the latter serving as multi-instrumentalist and lead vocalist on three tracks. Amongst their cited inspirations are The Cure, Slowdive, Ride, Chameleons, and Siouxsie and the Banshees. To the band’s credit, they avoid leaning too heavily on any one influence.

Opener “Parallel” does go heavy on the Anglo jangling, the guitars crisp as the track’s progression is full of swelling beauty, as Glasgow’s vocals deepen the Brit aura without going for a full-on imitative trip. “Somehow” follows, the vocals airy a la dream pop and the playing urgent, giving the Cure-like guitar figures a dose of the ol’ shoegaze.

With Evans taking a turn at the mic, the singing is even breathier in “24,” as a rouge ’80s keyboard gets thrown into the mix, conjuring visions of nursing a fountain soda in a mall food court while perusing a copy of Smash Hits. But Lauds smartly retain their intensity in the song, which keeps the attack focused, as “CeeDee Lamb” grows increasingly raucous, and during the post-punkish guitar soloing, reaches the border of downright heavy.

The guitar at the start of “Don’t Mind” reminds me a bit of The Bats and The Clean from New Zealand, but once the vocal comes in, the sound is pure ’80s UK. The same can be said for “Wasted Hours,” which opens side two, but in Lauds’ favor, the song doesn’t recall any particular band as it unwinds, with the stomping beat in the chorus and the guitar textures late in the track (and how they mingle with the keyboards) quite appealing

“Rust” settles into a jangled-out glide, and then “Distant Images” kicks it back into high gear, with the sturdy gallop of the rhythm another differentiating factor in Lauds overall sound (that is, the music here is tangibly punchier than many of their stated influences). “Wait Forever” delivers more adrenalin rush jangle, while “Misplace a Night” downshifts for the close, injecting a bit of Clientele-like airiness into the beginning before adjusting to a thrust that’s reminiscent of something out of late ’80s Manchester.

As said, Lauds aren’t inventing anything new with Imitation Life, but the album is a series of inspired variations on well-loved styles. It rolls from start to finish, a fully formed debut oozing promise for the future.

GRADED ON A CURVE:
A-

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  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


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