Launder - Happening Music Album Reviews

Launder - Happening Music Album Reviews
John Cudlip’s shoegaze band evokes the eyes-closed, blown-out atmospheric rock of the 1990s with studied precision and genuine passion.

Happening is John Cudlip’s first album as Launder, but it’s no stroke of beginner’s luck. Since starting the project in 2018, the Los Angeles songwriter has released a bevy of lo-fi alt-rock singles and an EP, Pink Cloud, before signing with Ghostly in 2019. In those next three pandemic-tainted years, he got sober and tucked 60 demos under his belt, diligently writing while live shows screeched to a halt. Then he and his band—guitarist Nathan Hawelu, bassist Chase Meier, and drummer Bryan De Leon—recorded take after take, commemorating each slight variation with a joke: “It’s happening.” A rapturous love letter to the scuzzy alt-rock of the early ’90s, Happening pays homage to Cudlip’s dream-pop and shoegaze influences. Marrying the angelic, throbbing melt of Slowdive or Beach House with the punchy clarity of the Drop Nineteens, it’s a precise, evocative expansion on the eyes-closed, blown-out atmospheric rock that destroyed countless Gen X eardrums.

Happening is refreshingly unabashed in its reverence. Cudlip recorded at Los Angeles’ New Monkey Studio, formerly owned by Elliott Smith; he used Smith’s microphone and compressor to record his own plaintive vocals. Sonny Diperri (My Bloody Valentine, Nine Inch Nails) mixed the album, which is streaked with Loveless and Souvlaki influences, even veering toward Goo-town on mid-album standout “Beggar.” But amid a multiplying flock of genre revivalists who imitate or recycle sounds from previous eras, Cudlip builds on his influences with such studied precision and genuine passion that it all ends up sounding natural.

Though most tracks on Happening chart a similar path—gradual buildup to explosive texture—they feel newly cathartic every time. Collaborating with French singer Soko on “Become,” Cudlip morphs spacey guitars into a heavily layered crunch that nearly drowns out her vocals by the end. Distorted, menacing chords seep and shudder through the latter half of the grunge-influenced “Withdraw” like blood through a bandage. Even the most pedestrian track, “On a Wire,” suddenly blossoms into a lush, guitar-driven blur that surpasses the previous four minutes’ relatively uninspired Souvlaki LARP. Cudlip’s mastery of the slow burn shines on closer “Lantern”; over its eight and a half-minute sprawl, the song evolves with impressive subtlety from a gentle guitar and vocal melody into a full-blown shoegaze arrangement, kicking off a nearly four-minute instrumental section with a Loveless-worthy screech.

In spite of its transcendent, emotive capabilities, Happening can feel a bit too clean at times, a little too influenced. The more ’00s alt-leaning tracks like “Harbour Mouth” and “Chipper” would stand out on a lesser album, but Cudlip’s oblique songwriting feels so perfectly matched to his moodier arrangements that the poppier songs threaten to power-wash the complexity out of the music. Lines like “Chipper”’s “I’m in love with the money, but we can share” feel out of place when delivered so smoothly, particularly in comparison to a sad headbanger like “Beggar,” where gnawing bass and Cudlip’s caustic groaning locate the song perfectly at the intersection of craven horniness and biblical rage.

In spite of its precision, the messiness is what makes Happening a compelling listen. Smashing the distortion pedal into oblivion, Cudlip is a genuine alchemical force, and as each song swells toward fury, euphoria, or something ineffably in between, it becomes clear that he wants us to feel everything that arises simply as it comes. Naturally that includes anxiety about what’s to come at all: “Couldn’t foresee all the misleading,” he croons on “Unwound.” The best shoegaze is all about atmosphere, and Cudlip pays the ultimate tribute to his influences not through imitative flattery but by following their lead and building his own world of towering sound and emotion.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Launder - Happening Music Album Reviews Launder - Happening Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Friday, August 05, 2022 Rating: 5

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