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April 2016
The Original Crooks and Nannies
"Ugly Laugh
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The Original Crooks and Nannies follow-up to 2015’s Soup For My Girlfriend begins with the sputtering staccato of “Call It Good.” The track’s rhythmic pulse collides flawlessly with Madeline Rafter’s vocals and buzzing synth, supported by a backbeat tailor-made for the dance floor. The album’s opener prepares its listener with ease for the pulsating energy of “Carry Me,” a heartfelt melody that brings to mind the romantics of Matt and Kim or the twee-drenched lyricism of Mates of State. The track’s sentiments are earnest, amplified simultaneously by urgent diction and humming chords. “Carry Me” is a living testament to The Original Crooks and Nannies’ ability to craft love songs so cathartic that it hurts.
 
Similarly, the unabashed desperation of “Throw Out” followed by the electro-hum of “Television” suitably precedes the tangibly raw frustration of “Dates.” For Rafter and her bandmate, Sam Huntington, drinking poison and having smashed teeth proves to be a more desirable fate than going on a date. Even in its state of exaggeration, the track is a potential artifact of our contemporary moment, depicting romance in the age of Tinder and the banality of #netflixandchill. It’s a critique with a memorable hook.
 
“Ghost” is suitably haunting with lines like “I can make you feel/I can make you feel much better” and crashing riffs and cymbals. The narrative of the song, like its namesake, will linger in your mind long after its heartfelt and nearly ethereal end. The intimacy of “Ghost” is transformed into a cinematic nostalgia in “Shake Hands.” Breathing to life an account of suburban antics and shared memories, Rafter and Huntington’s duet-esque ballad is irresistibly sweet, even for the most jaded listener, preparing its audience for the forthright emotives equally fervent in “Crying at the Dog Park.”
 
The woozy start of “Central Heating” and the narrative blends effortlessly into Ugly Laugh’s final track “Holy Wreck.” The album’s closer is an intimate confession paying homage to failures, flaws, and limitations. It’s a veneration of vulnerability and the beauty that can be found between fractures. “Holy Wreck,” much like the songs that precede it, is introspective, a melodic mirror reflecting the complexities of emotion and the adjacent irony of love, making Ugly Laugh the quintessential album that you didn’t know you were waiting for. It begs to be replayed again and again. - Dianca London

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Banter "I'm Still Sleeping"

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