The LaFontaines are back with their new album Common Problem, the follow up to debut full-length Class; and there’s not a problem in sight. Known for their take on some of life’s biggest issues including political dilemmas, the weather and global issues, it has resulted in a relatable album that works significantly in their favour.
Opening track Explosion literally does explode into action, with Kerr Okan’s trademark rap stealing the show with its rapid pace and lashings of electronic tones. There’s a heavy lyrical focus here setting the tone of the socio-political inspired songs, which are set to follow in the masses on this release. Live favourite Too Late has one of the catchiest choruses on the release whilst showing a different side to The LaFontaines with a heavy dose of keys and electronic synths. Title tracks for many are the ‘skip to’ tracks and Common Problem is one of the more melodic on the release, without losing the band’s vocal integrity. Singing of common problems the lyrics touch upon wanting to stay in touch with those special to you, falling for someone again and striving to be your best: “I just want a conversation I can really connect.” We can’t help but feel it’s a bit of a safe track, driving away from the reason we’ve become so hooked on The LaFontaines. The same tone follows with Torture, yet we’re just waiting for the spark to come back on the album.
Luckily the spark returns with Hang Fire and Goldmine, the duo vocals of Okan and John Gerard work so synchronously to keep you hooked, in tune with the album providing the perfect contrast. Musically, all elements of The LaFontaines are thrown into the mix with driving drum lines, hooked filled guitars and a tasty dose of synths for good measure. From the onset, Armour oozes with Biffy-Esque vibes stealing the spot for the fiercest, rockiest and biggest track on Common Problem. Stuttering guitar lines, erratic vocals and raps entwined with thrashy drums gets under your skin as you find yourself singing along in no time to “Is it alright to let you be my armour.” We love the tongue-in-cheek lyrics found within the verses, including “Bow down you could call it higher learning, I’m clever with my money so I call it higher earning.” Switching back to an upbeat, melodic vibe Atlas reiterates the lyrical powers The LaFontaines express with an indie undertone. It’s different, but different isn’t always a bad thing.
What Do I Know throws the album right back to the in-your-face style that The LaFontaines specialise in: it gets jammed right in your head thanks to their trademark big chorus. There’s something about this track that makes it sound like it would fit perfectly in a big arena-sized venue, so maybe one day this will become a reality. Total Control oozes in sultry tones, luring you in and keeping you under total control. It’s chaotic at times and makes you feel like you’re being taken on a musical rollercoaster ride as the synths feel a tad trippy.
Single Release The Hounds has an advantage, already a well-loved track but honestly? If this was the first time we’d heard it we’d still be saying the same. It’s bloody great with the perfect combination of rap and melodic vocals, a little aggression and twangy guitar lines. We’ll be honest, sitting still during this one was a challenge that we definitely failed in. Closing track Asleep wouldn’t be out of place on a film soundtrack, with Okan’s vocals creating an air of suspense which leaves you waiting for the eruption. Then the chorus comes in full pelt energy, in your face (just like The LaFontaines like to be) and revved up for the next instrumental round. The clever take on how many of us have been avoiding the situations going on in the world is portrayed during the repetitive line “I’ve been asleep in a daze,” as nobody wants to admit that there’s a lot going on around, perhaps that we don’t want to believe.
The LaFontaines aren’t afraid to talk about the issues that the world faces, and they do it with style and ease. Their vibrant energy and their memorable blend of musical and vocal styles is a refreshing change to the multitude of dull, repetitive releases that the music world continues to see.
Standout Tracks: Too Late, Armour, Release The Hounds
For Fans Of: Fatherson, Biffy Clyro, Twin Atlantic
Written By: Nicola Craig