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Good Looking Blues

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Album Review

For a band that named itself after the first dog in outer space — and previous albums called Sounds of the Satellites and Silver Apples of the Moon — you'd think Laika would make spacey ambient music with a focus on quirky beats. And they do, sometimes. The emphasis, though, of Good Looking Blues, the London quartet's third album, is to give equal attention to Margaret Fiedler's smooth, somewhat gothic-and-soul-influenced vocals and the band's mixture of rock, slow electronic, and sit-on-your-couch dance music. Fiedler, who went to grade school with Liz Phair in Winnetka, Illinois and later played in a Smiths-sounding college band with Moby, speak-sings dark fictional stories about life's basic themes: love, sex, death, and work. But it's not quite that simple. For instance, on one of the album's standouts, "Black Cat Bone," she tells a story of a woman who kills her evil husband with voodoo: "Rocks for my pillow and sand for my bed/For better or worse, I left him for dead." Laika's talent is crafting a particular mood. This mood, however, is difficult to explain. With songs about nights of apologies on "Moccasin," a lover man leaving on "T Street," and working for the man until death do you part on "Widow's Weed" you can't deny that Laika is dealing with themes of depression and wallowing in sadness. And even though you wouldn't call the sound upbeat, it is indeed mesmerizing, tranquil, and head-bobbing.

Biography

Formed: 1993 in London, England

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s

Like their namesake — the dog rocketed into orbit by the Soviets renowned as the first living creature to exit the earth's atmosphere — Laika traveled the spaceways, forging a distinct and wildly experimental fusion of hip-hop, jazz, electronica, dub, and Krautrock without earthly precedent. Somewhat of a Too Pure label all-star team comprised of former Moonshake vocalist/programmer Margaret Fiedler and bassist John Frenett, onetime PJ Harvey drummer Rob Ellis, and noted producer Guy...
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Good Looking Blues, Laika
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