ARTIST: LAIKA

TITLE: GOING NOWHERE

LABEL: SELF-RELEASED

RATING:  8/10 

WORDS: BECTON SIMPSON

Defining themselves as ‘alt-rock with emotional problems’ is certainly one new way to avoid the term emo, but Bournemouth four-piece Laika have no need to dance around terminology on debut EP ‘Going Nowhere’. Good music is good music, regardless of genre, and this collection of five tracks most definitely falls under that category. If you’re a fan of the likes of Milk Teeth, Boston Manor or Basement, then you’re probably going to enjoy Laika’s bouncy, anthemic style of punky alt-rock.

Opening up with ‘Dead End’ we’re immediatley given urgency, energy and a story of wasted youth, a tale of someone stuck at home listening to punk music and “getting wasted by 6pm”. As the title suggests, it’s about someone stuck in a dead end life and while its an overplayed theme in punk, Laika pull it off with enthusiasm and humour, topped off with a catchy singalong chorus to boot.

“It’s bare faced and on the nose, dealing with every day issues young people face growing up.”

Most of the songs on the EP seem to tell a story. There’s no dancing around with lyrical metaphors and deep poetry. It’s bare faced and on the nose, dealing with every day issues young people face growing up. ‘Hate’s A Strong Word’ is filled with self-doubt and over-thinking while slower number – and brand new single – ‘The Holland Play’ is abvout a love song gone wrong.

Bringing things down a notch, the track starts with arpreggioed, delicate sounding guitars drenched with echo, then kicks in around the one minute mark to a bigger chorus. Dropping back out for the second verse, the song continues along the same vein, with lead vocalist Sammy Lloyd’s British accent only lending to the overall sound of the piece and proving British pop punk is alive and well. No corny West Coast impersonations here.

Experimenting with different sounds and styles too, the band provide us with ‘Rose Tree’, a short but dramatic interlude of around a minute and a half in length which begins with soaring synth and movie soundtrack type vibes. Towards the end, we hear a man and woman’s voice speaking underneath, almost too low and quiet in the mix to make out what it says, talking about death and life. It’s eerie and interesting, and proves Laika aren’t just a one trick pony.

“It’s the kind of band/listener camaraderie that forges a connection and that fans latch onto”

The instrumental explodes into final track ‘Worst Nightmare’, probably the heaviest song on the record, leading us more away from pop-punk into alt-rock. “Losing friends is something I will never come to terms with”, sings Lloyd, carrying on the EP’s loose theme of “loss, love and recovery” while the drums pound away relentlessly. Dropping out into a quieter middle section adds some light and shade to one of the best songs of the five before building back up again in soaring emo style. “You’re going nowhere…you’re going fucking nowhere…if you start to fall we’ll grab your hand…” It’s the kind of band/listener camaraderie that forges a connection and that fans latch onto, creating that sense that the band will be there for them and ‘gets’ them.

And in these final moments of the EP, the double meaning of the title becomes clearer, both depressing and equally uplifting, but still wholly open to interpreation. Is it going nowhere as in dead end, not moving, not achieving anything…or is it going nowhere as in ‘you are staying right here, we’ll look after you and won’t let you out of our sight’? For Laika, it’s most definitely the latter. They’re a band who’s going places and going nowhere.

 

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