Fugitives from the Laughing House comes twenty years after The Reds released their first single. Despite such a history, the band is not a household name and, with Fugitives from the Laughing House being only the band's second full-length since 1984 (sixth total) it's not that they've been overly prolific. While I am unfamiliar with most of the band's releases, they are a two-piece ensemble on their latest.
Early The Reds played an electronic-fused punk precursor to New Age and somewhat similar to early The Cure. As the years have progressed, the band has mellowed a bit. The poppiness of their first record has been replaced with a grim 60s-influenced rock with electronic flourishes, mostly in the form of keyboard-enhanced beats, such as in the rastafied "Ringing the Bell" and the dub-influenced "Gunn's Suicide." The flourishes are mostly boring and repetitive, reminiscent of lesser The Clash reggae songs.
I have trouble getting into this, as it sounds like a pretty plaincut garage band for the most part. There are a lot of rhythmic hooks and repetitive choruses, but it all sounds rather run-of-the-mill and forgettable. Even the closer drags on with a repetition of the title track over and over for five minutes. This is the kind of music you'd find in a rainy alleyway. It's bleak, dirty, and atmospheric - but it's also bland. Take The Stooges or Richard Hell and The Voivods and then remove any elements of fun. Fugitives from the Laughing House strips any use of group vocals and energetic melodies for, as Tarock Music describes it, music that is "hypnotic...and...grinding."
The six minute "Dum Dum Dice" and "Dark as Night" dramatically eliminate any momentum the album had going as they drone without any variation. The Reds are a band best served by three-four minute songs.
The record sounds like many aging rockers - slower tempos and less consistency. The difference between 1979 and 2007 is, clearly, going to be quite different. However, the change in sounds reminds me of a solo Iggy Pop as compared to The Stooges: the new record has its moments, but it's markedly slower, less consistent, and less interesting. Personally, I prefer to listen to something that isn't described by its label as "feels like a dying man's last breath."
5.0 / 10
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