Laika & The Cosmonauts
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While 20 years is a nice round number on which to throw in the towel, the Finnish surf and spaghetti Western-influenced lads don't take the easy way out on this final bow. Instead of the typical "best-of" set, these 27 nuggets showcase the quartet's eclectic tendencies during its two-decade run. Running a bit-bursting 76 minutes, the cuts are drawn predominantly from six (five studio, one live) American albums on Upstart, Evidence, and Yep Roc, most of which are out of print as of this set's appearance in 2008. Fans will be thrilled to find a few difficult to find tracks that open ("Metropolis Theme") and close ("Mary's Theme") the disc. What makes this such a listenable collection, though, is the variety of styles Laika span, all unified by a common cinematic thread. Although the band stuck to its instrumental guns, there is a wide swath of territory at its disposal. Flicks were a logical source for much of the group's material, yet covers of the obscure "Ipcress File," "Psyko" (sic), "Experiment in Terror," and "Get Carter" themes show that Laika dug much further than just redoing "The James Bond Theme" (which they did cover but is not included here) for inspiration. Most of the songs are original and seem like the soundtrack to an as yet unfilmed movie. There are nods to their Dick Dale roots on "Surfs You Right!," a punky grunge attack driving "Look! No Head!," twisting sci-fi for "C'mon Do the Laika!," some '60s Western dust kicked over "Land's End," and even funk-based blaxploitation on "Circumstantial Evidence." The sound is never cluttered, with guitars and keyboards weaving around each other while leaving room for the music to breathe. Those who missed this gifted combo the first time around have a terrific sampler here, especially if the original discs never come back in print. It may not be all you will ever need from one of the finest and least heralded contemporary vocal-less bands, but this is a perfect summation of a group that had the chops, the creativity, and the tunes to be far more popular than it was.
Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s
Top Albums and Songs by Laika & The Cosmonauts
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