Brad Laner has been at the forefront of US shoegazing since the early ’90s, a linchpin of cult heroes (and key influences) like Medicine, Electric Company, Savage Republic, and Lusk and frighteningly innovative sound sculptor. Now in his 40s and out on his own (Natural Selections is his second solo album), Laner is relaxing a bit. With Natural Selections he is indulging in a longtime sweet tooth for baroque, carefully constructed psychedelic pop, and he’s taking his time in crafting each note, at a pace at odds with marketplace demands. Oh well, fuck it. Pop star time is over, radio friendly unit shifter concerns are long gone, Laner is no longer a hungry/angry young man, he’s got a kid now, he helped define American dreampop, he can now refashion Beatles records through a codeine haze all he likes. And it will still sound good.
-bm Laner takes a deliberate, painterly approach to his music, carefully layering crude electronics, phased waves of guitar, buried percussion, ornate melodies, and elegant falsetto vocal harmonies. Crucially, it ain’t all studied and academic; when dudes make mathematical-pop after listening to Smile too many times, this still has a wigged-out aftertaste to it. And if yer like, goddamn it, where’s Medicine’s erotic fear or the Electric Company’s crushing bliss, well too fucking bad, buddy. You’ll have to make do with the electric piano plunks and fuct soloing on “Throat,” or the Curve-esque waves of strobe-light terrorsound on “Brain,” or even letting his kid take the reins for a glorious bash on “Vicky” that sounds like early Sebadoh (HAH!). A couple of the tracks drag but y’know, y’know, y’know…
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