Record review

SXSW Records


If You Didn't Laugh, You'd Cry (Yep Roc)

Predictability is usually bad, right? Only half the time. Marah's fifth LP is another unsurprising pastiche of notes cribbed from working class and classic rock heroes: Springsteen, Dylan, Mick, and Keith. And so what? Not everyone has to be an avant guardian. While Laugh falls short of inciting the type of barroom brawls it seems born of, it does reverse the downward trend of the band's last two outings, the bloated and Brit-poppy Float Away With the Friday Night Gods and 2004's underachieving 20,000 Streets Under the Sky. "Demon of White Sadness" opens with a forged, Keith Richards signature riff and drops into the first verse on the heels of a Roy Bittan piano fill. "Sooner or Later" sounds like the Georgia Satellites trying to sound like the Faces. There's not enough emotion here to draw out either laughter or tears, but the Middle American disenchantment about nothing in particular is again stamped with Bielanko brothers own East Coast tough. If none of the hooks are truly memorable, the ride's pretty fun while it lasts. That alone makes Laugh better than half of anything else. It's taken three discs, but Marah's finally delivered the respectable follow-up to Y2K's Kids in Philly, one they could have easily titled Breaking No New Ground, but That's Okay. (Friday, March 17, 11pm @ Antone's)


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