Laurel Collective - Heartbeat Underground

An album full of frenzy and a breathlessly creative energy.


Laurel Collective’s hyperactive and frenzied take on experimental pop has gained them quite a following amongst the underground indie fraternity which, coupled with their position as curators of the In The Woods festival showcasing new and progressive music, has established them as one of the UK’s rather more idiosyncratic and progressive bands. Despite releasing their first demos way back in 2008 on Double Six records, the six-piece’s debut album ‘Heartbeat Underground’ is only just seeing the light of day. It appears that the long gestation period has served them well, however, as ‘Heartbeat Underground’ sees all the band’s creative energies distilled into an album full of frenzy and a breathlessly creative energy.

It is hard to definitively categorise Laurel Collective’s sound as it encompass everything from lo-fi melodic indie to electro, folk and an almost kind of blissful psychedelia. The kaleidoscope of sounds can possibly be put down to the disparate backgrounds of the band members who hail from Wales, England, Nigeria and Italy but there certainly a surfeit of ideas at work here. The album begins with the jerky shimmering beat of the title track which progresses into some lovely Beach Boys style harmonies, it is an entirely unexpected sound in keeping with an album that frequently surprises.

One of the main features of Laurel Collective’s sound is the interplay between the twin voices of frontmen Martin Sakutu and Bob Tollast. Both voices subtly complement each other particularly on the glorious harmonies which accompany the languidly insidious ‘Sunshine Buddy’ and ‘Fax Of Death’. There are echoes of the pop experimentalism of Late Of The Pier that can be heard in the fizzing electro guitar rush of ‘Cheap’, but mostly Laurel Collective have hit upon a sound that bears little comparison to anyone else.

As the album progresses the band delve ever deeper into experimentalism, still without losing sight of a clear melodic sensibility. ‘Alabaster’ is a woozy piece of understated tropical pop and there is a lovely airy atmospheric sound to the dreamy lilt of ‘Flame Thrower.’ The band’s creative impulses come to a head on the eight minute two part closer ‘Fizzing Blood’. It is a track that encapsulates what Laurel Collective are all about, taking a subtle basic piece of melodic pop and discombobulating and distorting it until it resembles something quite different and infinitely more interesting. The increasingly distended mechanical pulse here is a real highlight.

If there is one thing that can be valued above almost everything in music it’s ambition and ideas, and these are two attributes that Laurel Collective have in spades that have helped them to deliver a very fine debut album.
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