» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
The Laughing Stock of Indie Rock
Arena Rock Recording Co.

Rating: 7.5/10 ?

January 20, 2005
Pronounce it with me: E-lis-a-beth Es-se-link. It's fun to say, and if you know who she is, it's fun to hear. Le Femme Sparkee Solex is quite likeable as she slips a record here and there into the indie consciousness every few years, building a musical collage of Bond stills, go-go sequins and paint-stained keyboard manuals. On The Laughing Stock of Indie Rock, she not only sounds like she's having a ball, as she [thankfully] always does, she makes a cohesive album of bright streamers and hipster glee.

It's quite a statement to make, what with the album's title - Solex manages to take herself seriously in terms of creating her most consistent, thorough album yet, but still comes across like she doesn't have a care in the world.

So many of her past moments were scattered and zany, while decidedly great on account of it. The Laughing Stock of Indie Rock is more melodious, subtle and balanced, using her eager style to pursue deeper meanings, hidden agendas and ennui.

As with all of her albums, Solex's best tracks are bubbly, deconstructed breaths of fresh air. "Yadda Yadda Yadda No. 1" is an artful opener - if artful is the right word for the vibrant fun of coloring books. It is a voluminous Sesame Street funk calamity, where bus stop lookers, happy pimps and feathered streetwalkers are all captured in caricature. It also introduces us to the nicely diametric harmonies provided by Ms. Esselink and Stuart Brown, whose low rubberband-twang vocals accompany Solex's sopranic giggles to perfection. Brown fills in a missing element, even if we didn't know it was missing until now - his vocals are the surprise of the album, giving more turn radius for all of Solex's plot twists.

"Honkey Donkey," in a tired word, is awesome. It pits buzz (Brown) versus bounce (Esselink) with retro sock hop flair and an urban, gooey center. It feels cautionary, with its stop-go pace and searing glare, but as heat lines rise, it's time to dance again. It proves that everything Solex touches, whether odd or obscured or bitter, turns into a dance party, and that's one more reason to love her. "Hot Diggitydog Run Run Run" is a dark-turned-joyous scramble, pounding the pavement with the thrill of escape and a charming smile. "My B-Sides Rock Your World" is groovy porn-funk with low end, seductive tweeting and drugged smuttiness - and an apt title, of course, as anyone who's heard her cover of "Shady Lane" must know. "Take That Gum Out" is beautifully childlike and simple, eventually turning its sweetness into stringy, thin charges; it's robotic and playful, pure but somehow corrupt. The dynamic - Solex's complexity - will always pull her through.

Colorful storyboards flash throughout, letting their glorious details unfold: improvising moves to match disco starlite honky-tonk, tripping one's rival during a slow skate, playing in a band of garbage cans and champagne flutes, batting eyelashes oh-so-coyly and setting a hula country reactor to "mellow implode". These descriptions, by all rights, should sound interesting, because when put to music, they are. There's a world of mischievous fun to discover, and it's worth popping in The Laughing Stock of Indie Rock for the entire mood-elevating experience.

A momentous benchmark in its own right, this signifies Elisabeth Esselink's newest coming of age, not to mention the first time I've used the word "ennui" in a review - a joyous occasion on all counts.

Reviewed by Sarah Peters
A former music editor and staff writer for LAS, Sarah Peters recently disappeared. Perhaps one day she will surface again, who knows.

See other reviews by Sarah Peters



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