Larry is a three piece band from Dundalk. A combination of lofi alt-rock with raw emotive lyrics & pop sensibilities stems from the likes of Sparklehorse, Pixies and Wilco. Larry recorded their debut album with Steve Albini (Nirvana, Pixies, Shellac) in September 2018.
Having read an article recently by a medical professional in The Irish Times on how pointless vitamin supplements were (in relation to a new tax or something), I ceased taking my daily 1,000mg cod liver oil capsules which I have religiously consumed daily for the last 10 years. Whilst I feel liberated and have an extra 2 euro in my pocket every 2 months, some things are fading in my memory. Hence I cast myself back to a review of the first time I saw Dundalk trio Larry in The Bello Bar for the first time in May last year, supporting Just Mustard and Belfast's Hot Cops, Jesus, what a line-up that was. I'm glad I did, because the small number of lines I wrote at that time, which was also my first time hearing any of their music, are uncannily accurate to how I feel almost a year later with two singles, and a debut album now released.
"The first three songs were enjoyable slow-burners (29/04/19 - note: this is why I don't like reviewing live shows, Christ), and I found the sound particularly resonated very well with my inner love for old school US slacker-rock. I was enjoying my zoned-out slumber when they started to ratchet proceedings up in the second half and lead-singer Joey Edwards shifted from low tones to high to close out their set and leave you with a lovely rock-tinged finale. There are two sides to Larry's coin, and both are shiny."
With the new album well into the ear-drums, and the happenstance of having seen Larry on Friday night just gone at The Sound House in support of Third Smoke, the observation of both their sound and Edwards' vocal rising unexpectedly in their songs is fresh in the mind just as it was after seeing them perform for the first time.
I always love a gentle / rousing combination in lo-fi guitar-based music, the key for me is emphasis on the former, a roughly 80% / 20% split, and Larry do this so well. The two most influential albums on me since I was a teenager within this genre or style are Weezer's Blue Album and Pavement's Brighten the Corners which I reference a lot on these pages, particularly the latter. The great thing about Larry's sound is that they don't recall the sonic aesthetic of either, but more the platform DNA of both. The only track on the album that specifically reminded of Pavement is 'Liar' towards the end, and even then it's a stretch, reaching back for me to 'Old to Begin', the calm and the surprise raucousness of both vocal and percussion just when you are reaching peak-lull mood.
Edwards himself is a music producer whose name you will see in plentiful places in the production credits for other Irish acts, which undoubtedly was a contributing factor to Steve Albini wanting to cast his wand over proceedings last year. Having read a few interviews with Albini he always states that his modus operandi for working with bands is based on his gut feeling with that first listen, things like where you're from, what stage of your career you're at, or to be crass, economic benefits, are all irrelevant to him, it's purely based on his ear and nothing else, quite a ringing endorsement to say the least. Thankfully this process has been documented by KT Ball in an upcoming short which is due for release soon (trailer below). So, yeah, the album!
Opening with most recent single 'Cocker Spaniel', the track encapsulates the see-saw of understated energy and sleepiness of Larry's sound. There's plenty of thrash (not trash) early doors, jangly guitars and up and down drums, with the bass acting like a rope on a pier, holding a ship where it should be despite wanting to disembark. On a personal level it reminds me of one of the few hopeful passages from the gospels, Matthew 6:26:30 if memory serves me correctly; "Look at the birds in the sky! They don’t plant or harvest. They don’t even store grain in barns. Yet your Father in heaven takes care of them. Aren’t you worth more than birds?" Turns out god was a communist after all. Envy of the freedom and simple desires an animal enjoys (when they're not being hunted by a predator) vs. the complexity of meaningless anxieties humans experience as a result of our 'higher intelligence'.
'Wah' was the first track I heard from the album when Larry released the live video last year, and unusually for me I've found it hard to move on to a 'new favourite' as time has passed. It's perfect in a circular way, there are no rough edges, and everything is concise. Call it what you like, but it's prime lackadaisical slacker real estate, there are two sinkhole moments on the track, the guitar bend bang in the middle of 40 and 41 seconds, and that devilishly sleepy passage from 1:28 to 1:58, almost mathematical in its execution.
'Sea of Ringo Starrs' comes next, this track sprung out as something that should be on an OST for a Tarantino film (induced by a recent podcast I was researching for to a degree), it's Pulp Fiction / Reservoir Dogs soundtrack incarnate with a bruising finale, Dick Dale vibes abound, but also Link Wray's classic 'Rumble', here's where the past merges with a contemporary guitar rock sound.
'Marco' is by far the sleepiest track on the LP, the moment you pass out. As much fun as we've had with Larry's sound so far, this is an important stop-gap to remind us of the subject matter behind the song-writing, it's a non-pretentious and casual examination of our most basic insecurities, desire to be lauded and accepted, basically a blunt observation of one of the evolutionary hard-wired weaknesses of the human condition.
'Pushing' is a well-placed follow up, life is definitely not a miserable place on this album, overtly saying that insecurity and doubt is futile and you need to shake it off before it takes hold in a "you might be dead tomorrow" kind of way, so indulge yourself in the way you want to, not how you're told to. After the lament of 'Doggo', which may be an homage to a much-loved canine that is no longer trotting with us, comes 'Fako'. It's breezy, but in a different way to what we've heard thus far, that balance between light-heartedness and seriousness echoing from the drums and managed in a controlled way by Edwards' vocal.
Following the grunge-rock tone of 'Liar', the trio cast off from the pier with a whisper compared to what has come before on 'Deeper', a fitting swansong to bridge the gap between the next chapter. The tenderness of the song claws just enough at your innards to grab your focus without causing any emotional distress, the whistling somehow acting as the mascot for the entire collection of 9 tracks on Larry's debut album, if we can do this, you can do it too.