Laura: Yes Maybe No

In operation since 2001, Melbourne-based sextet Laura is well known in Australia and Japan (previously-issued albums include Mapping Your Dreams and Radio Swan is Down) but less so to North American listeners, something the band hopes will change with this new six-track EP. Clocking in at just under thirty minutes, Yes Maybe No scatters three atmospheric vignettes amongst three longer tracks, with the EP culminating in the longest (and best) of the lot, the fifteen-minute colossus “Another One for the Humans.”

Though executed with passion, some of the material is similar to the kind of crushing post-rock (math-rock if you prefer) one associates with bands like Mogwai and MONO. The opener “Bobik is in America,” for example, breathes fire despite the hiccup an odd time signature brings, while “Cardboard Cutout Robot Victim Hero Children” is a raging inferno of stabbing guitars and martial drumming—all well and good but not terribly unfamiliar. It's up to the closer, then, to distinguish the EP and “Another One for the Humans” delivers. Opening at a plodding tempo with wordless vocals and guitars draping themselves over the music's graceful melancholia, the piece takes flight when the mournful moan of Carolyn Gannell's cello appears, and not surprisingly it's at this moment that the music begins its ascent. A mid-song interlude of molten simmer temporarily arrests the climb but Laura soon enough resumes the journey and spends the next two minutes stoking the tune to a blistering caterwaul before the inevitable come-down sets in. The piece is so strong, the other pieces can't help but seem secondary to it.

September 2008