LaFaro - LaFaro

Brian Hopkins 31/05/2010

Rating: 4.5/5

LaFaro formed in Belfast back in 2004 and it's taken all this time for them to finally unleash their debut album.

Two shattering EP's (the best songs were rerecorded for the album), and a seemingly non-stop touring schedule with the likes of label mates Fighting With Wire and ASIWYFA, have gained the band a small but dedicated fanbase throughout the UK.

If you've been taking note, which I'm not sure you have, then you'll know album opener 'Tuppenny Nudger' was hailed as the 'Hottest Record in the World' by Radio One's Zane Lowe and given the accolade of 'best Northern Irish song of the past 5 years' by Alternative Ulster Magazine. And it really is that good. A massive stomp of a song with a pummeling repetitive riff and a mumbled growl of a vocal - it comes across as a perfect cross of US underground noise-rock and the 90's

heyday of ballsy Britrock.

The initial reference points here might be obvious to fans of the often overlooked Amphetamine Reptiles record label. We've got a David Yow yap coming from singer Johnny Black's mouth, and the influence of Jesus Lizard weaves it's way through the record. The heaviness of the riffs owes a punishing nod to the likes of Helmet, Tad and Unsane. There are also nods to more familiar indie kings such as Sonic Youth and Big Black, but what makes Lafaro interesting is the quirkiness of the songs: 'Girl is a Drummer' and the storming 'Leningrad' are reminiscent of the clever playfulness of Mclusky.

'Mr Heskey' steps up the tempo with a near-techno rhythm akin to early Therapy? and features a rowdy gang vocal. By the time 'Leningrad' kicks in with it's catchy chorus of 'must go to Moscow' you might be left breathless and the pace doesn't slow down until 'Great Conversations Remembered' with it's Pixies-esque bassline and Sonic Youth coolness.

A real surprise is the last song 'Party Hardy Marty'. It begins with a slow grove reminiscent of Betty-era Helmet but kicks in with a incredibly poppy chorus complete with harmonies and a Wildhearts-esque coda.

In 'Mr Heskey' Johnny Black snarls that you should 'consummate this' and you really should open your virgin ears to this dirty celebration of a record.

Out now on Smalltown Records.