Good looking, sure, but Laika is about as blues as oranges are square. Then again, so are good looks. Thus, in copycat irony, the group named after the first dog in space issues its own “blues” explosion, perhaps in reference to the prominence of straight-faced, dismal vocals unlike previous, more “instrumental” work from the group. Cascading the vocals along are equal parts orchestration and sample splicing, which could easily stand on their own. It’s the vocals, though, which seize your attention. Especially in “Bad Times,” a five-minute stoned hypnosis that’ll draw people into your home, office, car or wherever you play it, arms stretched out in sleepwalk dementia. I’m sure a few record-store geeks have already played the Beta Band trick from High Fidelity
with “Bad Times.” In it, Margaret Murphy Fiedler rattles off a list of what happens when you receive the “bad times” virus with public-service-announcement sincerity: “It will rewrite your hard drive. Not only that, but it will scramble any disks that are even close to your computer. It will recalibrate your refrigerator’s coolness setting so all your ice cream melts.” Working her way down the list, we learn that it will also hide your car keys when you’re late for work, leave its socks on the coffee table, kick your dog, leave libidinous messages on your boss’ voice mail in your voice and give you Dutch elm disease. The lyrics are from an anonymous e-mail.
Funny, I just got an e-mail today about what is and isn’t blues. And the last rule was that no matter how tragic your life, if you own a computer, you cannot sing the blues. But Laika manages to invite blues into the age of technology, just as the Soviet Union put a blood-pumping, heavy-breathing dog in an astronaut helmet and shot it into outer space.
Melissa Giannini is the Metro Times music writer. E-mail [email protected].