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Labasheeda - Blueprints (Presto Chango Records)

30 November 2023

It’s just at the point where rock and roll tips over into noise, where melody turns into sonic soundscaping and where song structure becomes untethered and unruly, that you find Labasheeda. Few bands manage to find the sweet spot between traditional rock and post-rock, the place where new attitudes sweep away the cliche of the past and where the worst excesses of experimentation are held in check by the perfect blend of muscle and melody. But if you ever found your way to such hallowed ground, you would find this Amsterdam trio there waiting for you.

Blueprints is a masterful album, eleven raw and rebellious tracks that evoke the likes of Sonic Youth and Pavement, an exercise in bending the rules of rock almost to breaking point but never quite fully embracing the chaos. Well, maybe just a bit. The result is a modern take on the swirling sonic crucible that spawned the likes of college rock, art-punk, noise-rock scenes and all manner of other outsider and alternative forms.

Songs such as “Closure” might be built of stuttering riffs, punky pace and angularity, but tracks such as “Homeless” prove that they are equally at home with slow-burning anthemics, a song that wraps itself in layers of additional sonic tones and musical textures, claustrophobic vibes and the subtle (and perhaps not so subtle) ebb and flow needed to create anticipation and dynamics.

And then there are songs such as “Vanity”, an almost balladic and laid-back piece which feels wonderfully naked considering what has gone before, as if, without the roar and ricochet of their usual musical arsenal, you are being afforded a glimpse into the underlying essence of the band. Similarly, “Volatile” subtly plays out via chiming guitars and mournful violins. But if you want a new take on old-school punk, a song happy just to cut loose, an explosion of angsty energy, “Curiosity” is about as good as it gets.

I’m not saying that Labasheeda spends much time looking over their shoulder, gazing into the past; they seem more interested in where things go next. But I bet I could safely guess at least a few bands that take pride of place in their collective record collections. Better still, I think it would read like the soundtrack to my formative years.