The Upshot: First album of original material in four years yields a transcendent ball of melodic rock ‘n’ roll.
BY MICHAEL TOLAND
Let’s face it: you know exactly what you’re going to get with a Tommy Keene album. You know it’ll be full of janglecrunch guitars, reedy vocals, sharp solos, wordy lyrics, rock ‘n’ roll verve and tons of sweet, sweet pop hooks. The question is: how well will all of these elements coalesce? Will we get a solid LP of reasonably catchy power pop tunes or a transcendent ball of melodic rock ‘n’ roll?
In the case of Laugh in the Dark, Keene’s first album of original material in four years, it’s definitely the latter. Apparently 2013’s covers LP Excitement At Your Feet cleared his decks, because the creative energy practically bubbles over here. The midtempo “All the Lights Are Alive” and rocking “Alone in These Modern Times” wrap thoughtful lyrics around sprawling melodies. “Last of the Twilight Girls” cranks the distortion, but layers it over one of Keene’s most winsome tunes. “All Gone Away” dips into Beatlesque psychedelia, while “Go Back Home” rides a bluesy slide guitar into a distinctively Keening version of classic rock. “I Belong to You” and “Out of My Mind” kick it old school, rolling all of Keen’s power pop bonafides into masterclasses on the style.
“Return to form” is never a good phrase to lobby at an artist as consistent as Keene has been throughout his career. But there’s definitely something special about Laugh In the Dark, a bravura spirit that will make this record one of his career signposts to which his subsequent work will be compared.
DOWNLOAD: “Out of My Mind,” “Last of the Twilight Girls,” “Alone in These Modern Times”
Go HERE to listen to an exclusive track from the Keene album.
Editorial disclosure: Keene’s label, Second Motion, is one of BLURT’s two sister businesses. The editor of the magazine even wrote the musician’s latest bio. If that’s a conflict of interest in your mind, understand that everyone here was a fan of Keene long before the magazine or the record label had even been conceived. Probably even before YOU as well…