Labasheeda - The Twilight State

Owain Paciuszko 01/02/2011

Rating: 4/5

There's a certain grimy menace to opening track Hackney that's quite delicious, whilst Saskia Van Der Giessen cautiously coos sultry lyrics, the track has similarity to early Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and it bubbles over into curious semi-heavy bursts of frustrated guitar and tentative little riffs played on Saskia's violin. It's a good start for this sophomore LP from the Amsterdam-based quartet, though the elements rub up against one another a little awkwardly in the track's closing moments.

Bad News For Batman is feisty upbeat grungey rocker with a strong guitar riff driving the verses, and a brilliantly off-beat breakdown towards the track's close, building towards a poppy Sonic Youth-esque finale. Saskia's vocals become a breathy, woozy tumble on the doe-eyed Headquarter which works as a better showcase of their violin-infused alt-rock with its mellow, grumpy swagger. Meanwhile Winter is a barked and howled track that recalls Land of Talk's mix of choppy guitars and wailing choruses, ending on a despondently defiant note.

Indulgent is the record's first duff note, a pacy but flavourless track, that winds up sounding like an Evanescence song played at the wrong speed. From You to Me sashays from sleazy refrains of 'Is this a test?' into chundering joyrides of guitar, flitting back and forth from its angular moments to these miniature explosions of energy with vigour. Elsewhere Thanos Fiotadis' bass on White Leather is a big, buzzy joy, cutting into the track like a grumpy buzz-saw whilst Saskia's voice moves around with a certain abandon and her eventual violin a sweet and sombre lead in to the track's fat bursts of staccato noise. The track has a playfulness that the band have occasionally teased at, but here there's a palpable sense of fun that reaches out of the speakers excellently.

Things slow down for The Crash Within Without You, which has a pretty good minimal arrangment, but Saskia's PJ Harvey-like vocal works better on the song's eventual ascent into a thunderous noise than the softer sections. Way Out is a jaunty return to pacy rock n roll, Saskia's voice dancing up and down, whilst Arne Wolfswinkel's guitar is equally, entertaingly explorative as the track rattles towards a sparky close.

Penultimate track My First Choice is a lengthy and occasionally exhilirating instrumental, though it has a few slightly clumsy moments, it, for the most part is a great little wig-out, with focus shifting neatly around the four band members over the song's six and a half minutes. Closing track Duplicated brings the band back to the familiar structure that runs across the whole record, soft verses with occasional darts towards heavier asides, there's some fun stop-start moments enlivening this closing number and it draws the record to a decent if not exactly revelatory close.

This is a fine record from an interesting band, there's a certain pattern to how some of these tracks are arranged and that means a few here and there can feel like repetition, but there are some real stand out moments as well.