The Corner Laughers Create Timeless, Intelligent Indie Pop-Rock

12 May

The cover of The Corner Laughers’ forthcoming album, Matilda Effect — scheduled for release on Friday, June 12th, but available now for pre-orders — shows lead singer-songwriter Karla Kane — apparently materializing through a celestial haze. She is surrounded by her bandmates: bassist (and spouse) Khoi Huynh, drummer Charlie Crabtree, and guitarist KC Bowman — all of whom seem to be standing in awe as she appears in their midst.

That photo is an ideal metaphor for Kane and The Corner Laughers’ latest effort. Kane is an indie pop-rock goddess with an out-of-this-world voice; a gift for writing clever, omniscient lyrics; and an always sunny personality that comes shining through in her songs.

In addition, Matilda Effect — The Corner Laughers’ fourth full-length release — explores a world of topics not normally addressed in pop-rock music. Inspired by the band’s global travels, Kane’s lyrics address everything from stone circles and druids to fairytale tourists…and from the voyages of clipper ship captains to the discoveries of little-known astronomer, Henrietta Leavitt. All of this is delivered in intelligent, intricately arranged sunshine pop, rock and folk — as well as a retro pop-rock number and even a 1920s/1930s-style tune — that transport us to other places and times.

The album has strong feminist underpinnings, starting with its title. (The “Matilda Effect” refers to the practice of denying or diminishing the contributions of female scientists.) There are also heroines in a number of the stories that Kane spins on the album.

Matilda Effect kicks off with “Fairytale Tourist,” a brilliant sunshine indie pop song with incredible hooks and one of the best bass lines ever laid down in a pop tune via bassist Huynh. Kane dreams of being “Cleopatra, bound for Julius Caesar” before awakening to her blankets pulled tight. Rich harmonies and bah-bah-bahs make this a tune that plays over and over in your head after a few listens.

“The Girl, America” is great jangle rock that builds into a terrific power pop song. Kane’s vocals are imbued with a natural innocence as she sings Anton Barbeau’s lyrics. Bowman delivers a ripping guitar solo in the lead break, something that we’ve rarely heard from The Corner Laughers before.

“Queen of the Meadow” is lilting indie rock. The lyrics make a brief reference to Henrietta Leavitt, a Radcliffe grad who used the luminosity of stars to help astronomers measure the distance between the Earth and far-off galaxies. Leavitt’s accomplishments were overshadowed by the discoveries of other (male) scientists that came after her.

“Midsommar,” a song that was released as a digital single last summer, is breezy pop-rock with a languid tempo that’s perfect for the leisurely summer days that are fast-approaching. The song features a catchy melody and looking-glass lyrics.

“Lammas Land” is a light and dreamy, skipping pop number. Kane’s wistful, angelic vocals are supported by her flawless ukulele, Bowman’s ringing guitar and Crabtree’s brushes on drums. The song trails out with an amazingly complex round — with Kane singing all the parts.

The closing number is “Good Hope,” a bouncy rock tune that includes a strummed ukulele mixed with an electric guitar over a reggae-influenced beat. The song tells the story of fearless clipper captains who made dangerous voyages around Cape Horn and the Cape of Good Hope.

If you like smart lyrics, strong hooks, sharp arrangements, and super-clean production, you’ll love The Corner laughers’ Matilda Effect.

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