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L.A.B. have spent over three years making their name on the live circuit in both New Zealand & Australia, and their debut album is a result of countless sets honing their material. Written across Whakatane & Tauranga, the album has been recorded across week-long stints at Wellington’s Surgery Studios with Dr Lee Prebble. Live, the band would debrief after each show, critiquing and adjusting arrangements after each show. The recordings are no different, working and tweaking until each track was perfect.
L.A.B. opens with ‘She’s Gone’, a seven-minute juggernaut, which starts as a Dire Straits-inspired guitar epic, before switching effortlessly to a blend of reggae/funk, punctuated by Shadbolt’s soaring guitar. ‘Starry Eyes’ and ‘Jimmy Boy’ are two festival-ready monsters, while ‘Umulash’ is not just a word without a dictionary definition, but is an earworm that sticks with the listener with its refrain of “Umulash – I wanna get cash”.
Across all 12 tracks, L.A.B. shows an act with a strong sense of their own voice and sound, and all its different aspects. ‘The Watchman’ and ‘Oh-No’ both are reggae-funk tunes driven by Adams-Tamatea’s bass, while ‘Controller’ and ‘Love Will Save Me’ are ballads driven by Stu Kora’s synth sounds. ‘Sweet Water’ further shows the Pink Floyd influence with its epic reimagining of earlier track ‘Starry Eyes’, and ‘Oldman’ even features slide guitar from the Kora brother’s father.
Over one hour long, L.A.B. is an album which wears its influences unapologetically on its sleeves, and has created an eclectic sound. It is an album which showcases four incredibly talented and experienced musicians combining in a unique way, taking all the elements of their separate musical lives, throwing them into a blender, and resulting in a listen which is unlike anything that has come before.