Sam Jayne, leader of Love as Laughter, would have you believe Laughter's Fifth is a cock-in-fist homage to all that is bluesy, ballsy and cool about classic rock. After all, 2001's Sea to Shining Sea was exactly that: a greasy scramble of the Who, Skynyrd, Thin Lizzy and Exile on Main Street-era Stones that was still smart enough to wink and get away with it. But on this new disc, Jayne's gone limp. Instead of diving deep into the guts of its influences, his band treads water, trading in stomping riffs for tiptoed picking and sloppy glory for slovenly torpor. Even worse, the butt-rock rapture of Shining Sea has been filtered through an indie sieve, rendering Fifth an insipid, poker-faced pastiche of the blandest bits of Built to Spill and Pavement. Love? Laughter? Tragically, this time around Jayne is short on both.
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