Lali Puna
Faking The Books

By Ed Chamberlin

 
Given the kind of music Radiohead have been producing recently, you would imagine that their fave current music would be the pinging of a coma sufferer’s life-support machine accompanied by the sound of the band scratching their beards to some philosophical essays that we are not intelligent enough to understand.

Yet, the truth is that they do have hearts that can be melted by beautiful tunes. the tunes of Lali Puna to be precise. Johnny Greenwood was apparently so impressed with the German band’s first album, Tridecoder, that he purchased four copies. Their third album, Faking The Books is even better than Tridecoder, and the preceding effort Scary World Theory.

Da Puna’s talent lies in meshing experimental electronic music with the sweetest pop heard in years. The opening bars of the title track display this perfectly. Valerie Trebeljahr’s deadpan (and pretty damn sexy if you ask me) voice is cut, sliced and rearranged into something which I can only describe as a vocal bassline, drifting throughout the whole rack, as it builds into something starry-eyed and lovely. Right from the start, you are confronted with inventive, avant-garde ideas, but it is all so wondrously executed that only the staunchest musical philistine could fail to enjoy it.

Faking The Books is followed by Call-1-800-Fear that makes prepared pianos, tape-loop drones and percussion that sounds like a bunch of baby R2D2s having an argument into something totally accessible. Of course, this wouldn’t be possible without good, old-fashioned melodies, and amazingly, every track here boasts a cracking one.

Micronomic’s sprightly percussion and jarring guitars allow Trebeljahr to crank out the most swoonful melody of the album (of all time?), producing the strongest track on the album. All this doesn’t stop Lali Puna from adding a glitched up middle section for that delicious experimental appeal.

It’s amazing how the band manages to create such a striking sound out of such banal elements. The organ sounds are retro and border on cheesy, the guitars are simple to the point of laughable and Trebeljahr’s vocals are intentionally expressionless. But somehow it all adds up to something significantly more than its, or most others bands’ parts.

Some of this riddle can be solved by B-Movie. The heavy-as-hell live drums and insistent bass create a Strokesian stomp for Trebeljahr to drone over. In the chorus, a squelchy keyboard sound arrives and the vocals shift register from deadpan to slightly-less-deadpan, and the effect is devastating.

Every sound has been so tastefully added for maximum impact, that the slightest change in keyboard tone or the smallest drum roll become seismic emotional events.

This minimalist technique is executed to perfection throughout the album, and the quality only dips towards the end, when Lali Puna’s seemingly bottomless bag of melodies begins to run dry. Even so, this is an excellent album from start to finish. Both arty and accessible, avant-garde and unmistakably pop, this will improve the lives of everyone who comes into contact with it. Johnny Greenwood’s gonna have to buy 20 copies of this one.
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