That magic pop touch – you’ve either got it or you haven’t. Lara Smiles definitely has.
No doubt she’s picked-up a few hints along the way. Lara Smiles has been sharing stages and collaborated with everyone from Pete Doherty to The Orb, Plus recently lending her unashamedly powerful lungs to the Australian Pink Floyd’s extensively booked live show. The overriding feeling you get from listening to her debut album is that it’s very much an intuitive affair. Catchy songs simply seem to tumble out of her with a minimum of effort.
The album begins with the driving rock sound of ‘Coincidence’, forceful and confident in its riff-laden heaviness on the outside, while betraying an engaging vulnerability at its lyrical core. With a spiralling rock sound at it’s core, tracks like ‘Dictate Peace’ and ‘And It Hurts’ are a modern reinvention of the hard but funky-edged template of the late 60s and early 70s sounds of Jimi Hendrix or Deep Purple. Add to that Smiles’ own considerable firepower and you’ve got yourselves a pretty formidable noise.
This LP has many more tricks up its sleeve, than simple riff bludgeoning and roaring singing, which becomes increasingly clear as it progresses. ‘Oh How’ acts as a pleasing half time breather, with intricate guitar plucking weaving a calm English-ness reminiscent of Gabriel-era Genesis, while ‘Disconnected’ nestles more in the indie bracket. ‘Zombie’ starts off all electro before building towards a (suitably enough) monster of a chorus with Lara declaring “I’m a zombie by day.” The album’s title track is worthy of a special mention, a curiously unclassifiable hybrid of funky 80s rhythms and rock. With its open hearted sentiments effortlessly drawing you in.
There’s surely a nod on the album’s closing song ‘Turn It Around’ to Lara’s stint voicing the acrobatic explosions on the ‘The Great Gig In The Sky’ for the Australian Pink Floyd. The lyrics have a beautiful, touching idealism to them, delivered with just a touch of the poignancy and rough edged soul searching. This track is the perfect and suitably dramatic end to this album of ups and downs.
There’s a refreshing reluctance throughout ‘All For You’ to adhere too closely to hipster fashion and current musical fads. At the same time, Lara’s songwriting skills are never in doubt and you’ll be carrying these songs around in your head for a long time to come. This gift to you is captured perfectly by the tight, bursting-at-the-seams production from Youth and Michael Rendall. This pair are more usually found working with stadium filling acts like Primal Scream and The Verve – which should tell you something about Lara’s future prospects.