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Album Review: The LaFontaines - Class

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Since appearing at T in the Park in 2011, The LaFontaines have been turning heads with their genre-bending sound. Four years later, and the Scottish quintet are finally releasing their debut album, Class.

The LaFontaines are not the first to mix it up when it comes to genre. Hip-hop and rap, for instance, are certainly no strangers to rock – numerous artists have combined these genres before, with varying degrees of success. It doesn’t take a bunch of musical geniuses to write a half-arsed indie rock track and throw some generic rap inexpertly over the top.

But that’s not what The LaFontaines do. Rather, with Class, the five-piece have seamlessly blended the elements of rock, pop and hip-hop at which they excel to create a multi-layered and textured sound that’s bold, unapologetic, and really, really works.

There’s a real feeling of determination and conviction immediately from album opener ‘Slow Elvis’, which prowls its way in with a deep, driving bass groove, and builds to a meatier, heavier outro with chugging guitars that are just a little reminiscent of Rage Against The Machine. Next, ‘Under The Storm’ is drenched in attitude, with verses full of bite and a snappy chorus that’s just the right dosage of pop. Elsewhere, current single ‘King’ is sharp and gritty, but still oozing effortless cool.

The rhythm section is consistently strong throughout Class, providing a solid foundation upon which the band can fuse styles with a palpable sense of ease and sophistication. In particular, the intricate, funk-infused beat of ‘Junior Dragon’ gives even more force to frontman Kerr Okan’s gutsy verses, adding weight to its raucous guitar melody that simply refuses to simmer down.

What is also impressive about Class is its variety. As expertly as The LaFontaines execute the album’s more boisterous numbers, the band also excels at the lighter end of the spectrum. Title track ‘Class’ features an infectiously uplifting and melodic riff, and the downbeat verses of ‘Castles’ contrast brilliantly with its soaring, harmonious choruses. ‘Pull Me Back’ is an unexpected yet striking end to the album, with its soulful, echoed vocals resounding over beautifully simple piano chords, demonstrating just how much depth there is to this band.    

Class is may only be the quintet's debut, but already it shows that The LaFontaines know precisely what they’re doing. You might not be able to classify exactly what that is, but whatever it is, it’s rather good.

Class is released on 8th June via 889 Records.

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