Time to take Svan, the Laughing's stuffed tiger mascot, out of retirement. After two promising EPs, the local art-rock outfit finally hones its Anglo safari into something tangible and enjoyable on Fever, the band's full-length debut co-produced by Erik Wofford. Densely layering post-punk guitars, huge Congo percussion, and various African accents, the LP alternately shakes Byrne & Eno's My Life in the Bush of Ghosts with the pop playfulness of Paul Simon's Graceland. There's a noticeable cohesion that carries over even into the hidden track, with the swirling, exotic "Runner" and title track being obvious highlights. While the loss of multi-instrumentalist Abram Shook has tightened the Laughing's sound, the quartet still struggles at times to balance its various eccentricities, most notably the shambled "Help Me," though leader Logan Middleton gets considerably more mileage out of his quivering vocals on slow jam "Favorite." As for the Laughing's matching white denim vests of yesteryear, best leave those in the closet.
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