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Album Review: Laika by Samoans

Samoans release their highly anticipated second album Laika on 29th September via Apres Vous Records. Samoans released their debut album Rescue in 2014 to critical acclaim (especially on Alt Dialogue), and toured extensively for two years playing with the likes of No Devotion and Kids in Glass Houses and recording a BBC Radio 1 session at Maida Vale. The album was also nominated for the coveted Welsh Music Prize.

The album’s theme is developed around the human relationship with space and tales of a dystopian future that reflect who we are and where we’re going as a species. Named after the dog that was launched into space to test its impact on living creatures. Laika was never expected to return to earth, spelling out the sacrifices humans make in the name of progress.

Whether there’s a parallel to be drawn from that to Samoan’s development and written of their second album is left open, but what we can safely say is that Laika not only continues the development of the band but sees them taking big strides into a bigger and better sound.

‘Second Tongue’ teases you into the developed sound of Samoans, it’s more ambitious than before and while it acts as an introduction to the album the arrangement and instrumentation hints that there’s a lot more to come from the band. It doesn’t take long for that impression to be realised, ‘Monuments’ sounds huge. Commanding and forthright the song pushes the band into the upper echelons of UK alt rock. There’s some good guitar work on ‘Blindsided’ but the next really impressive moment comes in the slow burning ‘Template for a New Identity’. Supported by brass arrangement there’s a Radiohead quality to the track before the thunderous bass line comes in and the track explodes in its final minute. Superb.

Both ‘Terra’ and ‘Future Ghost’ have the hallmarks of Samoans of 2014 and that’s no bad thing. The piano work in the latter is especially impressive and lends the track and extra emotive quality. ‘Patience’ takes anything but patience to fall in love with. One of those instantaneous, sprawling alt rock tracks that prove the band aren’t willing to rest on their laurels and push themselves. It’s expansive yet refined. The expansive quality is carried through to the driving ‘Satellites’ before the slow burning of ‘Forcefield’ transports you into space. Again there’s a touch of Radiohead to proceedings albeit with post-rock dynamics thrown in to create the interstellar dynamics.

The driving alt rock of ‘Broken Hands’ is fantastic and if it’s riffs you’re looking for, this will be the standout track. A formidable blend of big riffs and powerful vocals. The expansive experimentation of ‘Counting Backwards’ is another reminder of how far Samoans have come, they’re something special and have created a wonderful album full of sprawling dynamics whilst retaining the alt rock urgency of their debut.

AD Rating 8/10

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