For whatever reason, Love as Laughter and its fearless (and seemingly careless) leader, Sam Jayne, have flown under the radar of the indie masses since Jayne formed the band in 1994. This is unfortunate, as Jayne is one of the most gifted and underrated songwriters out there.
After five albums for K Records and Sub Pop, which could collectively be described as brilliantly crafted, sloppy slabs of (slightly) Stones- and Neil Young-inspired jams, Jayne and co. have made the move to major label Epic. The product of this, Holy, is a bigger, broader, and more eclectic version of their former selves. No doubt much of this is due to legendary producer Joe Blaney, as well as a slew of friends and guests who give the album a collaborative aesthetic. What's more, the band uses space as it has seldom done before; songs are allowed to really stretch out and breathe.
Because of this, Holy showcases a new breadth in songwriting. From the acoustic opening of the title track, which climaxes with a catchy "Hey Jude"-ish finale, to the ramshackle raucousness of the Crazy Horse-ish "Paul Revere," to the out-of-left-field "All Parts of Me," which gives Vampire Weekend a good run for its money, this is well-crafted and far-reaching stuff, all tethered by Jayne's knack for writing catchy melodies and their accompanying riffs. On top of all this, album centerpiece "Cleaning Man" proves Jayne worthy of being lumped in with the songwriting likes of Paul Westerberg, Steve Earle et al.
Without much attention, Sam Jayne has mastered the incorporation of his influences into crafting his own unique voice, and his cohorts certainly knock the ball out of the park on Holy. (Glacial Pace/Epic)