If you stop and listen – stop and listen really hard – you can just about make out the sound of wallet chains jingling against the thighs of absurdly baggy jeans. This sound can only mean one thing: the ’90s are back, and boy don’t we know it.
With this sudden onslaught of pre-millennium nostalgia, it was only a matter of time before grunge reared its gloriously greasy head again. Thankfully though, with Laurel Canyon around, we might have just found a group ready to take the well-worn sound into the 21st century. While their self-titled debut album leans heavily on the tried and tested loud-quiet handbook, it does so without overly relying on pure retroism, putting distance between themselves and cringy plaid pastiche.
That’s not to say there aren’t comparisons to be made with the scene’s past. Opener ‘Drop’ follows a familiar formula. Clean guitars and drawling, half-drugged vocals explode with big muff aplomb. It’s never going to win any prizes for pure originality, but the group’s weirdo energy elevates them above the pretenders, ensuring they never slip into sloppy Gen X cosplay.
As things progress the group expand their horizons with a few healthy dollops of psych pop oddness. ‘A Man About Town’ is Bleach-era Nirvana on a Magical Mystery Tour, while ‘Daddy’s Honey’ is the sound of Mudhoney inhaling the Nuggets compilation [seminal collection of punk-foreshadowing ’60s psych] and spewing it back up, just for your pleasure.
While it would be a push to say that this combo is groundbreaking, by adding a slight psych slant Laurel Canyon have managed to avoid the less palatable, macho elements of the past, enabling them to embrace the true outsider nature of a genre like grunge.Playing with nostalgia can be a dangerous game, but with their debut Laurel Canyon have proven that, when handled properly, old sounds can be a real breath of fresh air. It might just be time to crack out that wallet chain again after all.
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