Available from 27 October 2017
The LaFontaines continue their ascendency with their sophomore release packed full of addictive energetic tunes and featuring their distinct combination of powerful rock, electronic and melodic pop; their passion manages to convince reviewer Neil Hodge.
The LaFontaines follow up their debut Class with sophomore album, Common Problem. This sees the band develop their diverse sound further with the song-writing covering many of the prevalent topics of modern day Britain.
The subject matter of some songs, along with the vocal delivery, betrays their west of Scotland roots. Indicating missing Glasgow when they are away and that the weather in Scotland is “fuckin’ freezing.” Their observant political and social commentary covers controversial topics like sectarianism, on What Do I Know? with its impassioned plea of “I don’t know how to make things better” and nods towards Brexit, poverty & fake news.
The LaFontaines have concocted their unique style from a hybrid of influences. Predominantly rock based, but with hip hop & pop leanings and a good dusting of electronica for good measure.
Some tracks are intensely direct, their acerbic lyrics furiously delivered with rancour while others are more subtle and melodic in spirit, but delivered with no less passion.
The band are reminiscent in places of Rage Against The Machine and their ilk, with heavyweight riffs and visceral breakneck rhyming. Prime examples of this can be heard on self-descriptive album opener Explosion, which also adds some interesting electronic samples to the mix giving a choral element to the song. Armour”is another of the heavier tracks on the album – “it’s alright to let you be my armour now and then”. Also on album closer Asleep which builds slowly layering each sound to a crescendo with its riffs evoking Killing in the Name Of.
I wasn’t sure about the whole album on first listen due to the eclectic nature of some of the styles. However, the more I listened, the more I got to like the fusion of styles. Although some songs are very different in style, there is a percussive sound, which on top of the distinctive vocals, gives a cohesive link.
Of the tracks where the guitars less aggressive, such as title track Common Problem, there is more of a mainstream pop-sensibility akin to The 1975/Twin Atlantic. This doesn’t reduce the power of the songs when you add the messages delivered in the passionate lyrics. “Hang Fire” is another album highlight with its memorable chorus and refrain of “I will see myself out”
Add to that the electronica in several tunes that give that extra layer, you realise they will also tempt fans of fellow Scots like Chvrches & Prides. Songs like Too Late & Torture combine all these elements to great effect blending them with a mix of sweet melody and ebullient rhyming.
Overall, Common Problem with its variety of powerful riffs, captivating lyrics, engaging delivery and smattering of pop and electronica, is an album with universal appeal and should see the band eclipse the success of their debut.
Catch the band as they take their new album out on the road around the UK in November.