Business should scarcely be left in the hands of a group of Motherwell based miscreants. Even less so when it comes to the budget. The LaFontaines – quintessential outfit affiliating the hardened imagery of a pleasant Beastie Boys meet resounding Twin Atlantic refrains – are fortunate enough to be at the augmenting phase of their national acceptance that they have been afforded these pleasures. Cue an imprudent decision to have the group’s best single name adorn a baseball cap; jailhouse escapades in the heart of Marrakech while filming said video; visiting Manchester on a wet Tuesday night. But under the laddish bravado that often consumed the intimate crowd at Manchester’s Ruby Lounge, burgeoning excitement that this Scottish quartet really are beginning to create music befit of their influences blossomed.
Sustained at The LaFontaines’ nub is an irrefutable craving to generate a sound that subsumes modern truths with rollicking, feisty grooves. The manner upon which the ensemble reel off hardened scores of these archetypal mid-00s alternative refrains remains their underlying appeal; countered only by the breakneck rhymes of their demanding frontman Kerr Okan. Okan’s vocals – brash within their delivery, it countered the affable, natural persona of a man unifying the room’s welcoming ambiance – dueled regularly throughout with the pop smart tones of bassist John Gerard.
‘Under the Storm’ – centring itself around the crunching guitar melodies, the fizzing electricity that festered with the upbeat, jerking beats carried – and ‘Light up the Background’ – a model fusion of rap-rock that was constantly bitten by the knee-jerking intensities of a pulsating indie track – allowed the two vocalists room to colour their own melodies with their juxtaposing intuition. Much like when garage rapper Mike Skinner teamed up with The Music’s Rob Harvey, the union of delicate main melody hooks brazenly adjusting to the grit of the wordsmith, made for compulsive listening.
Behind the vocals sat the remainder of The LaFontaines. Their continual use of ‘A.M’ era Arctic Monkeys guitar riffs meet Raptures guitar bursts regularly emerged; ‘Pon De Fonts’ – the synchronized warped murmurs of electronics opening, the blinking sample that evolved within the chorus became as instantly significant to the hook as the repressed energy of the drums – a primary example of this fusion. Latest single ‘Junior Dragon’ explored this marriage further; the tribal like vocals, filthy bass, elegant words – it represented a savage track welcomed at any contemporary hipster hideout.
“It was like an episode of fucking Homeland,” was Kerr’s reflection of the group’s time in Morocco before ‘King’ reflected on The LaFontaines homely roots as spat verses collided with the blinking lights and energy torn breaks. ‘All She Knows’ removed itself from the shaded chaos into realms occupied by Amber Run. ‘Castles’ displayed their grasp of Biffy Clyro meets Kids in Glass Houses severity of stadium-like choruses.
Everyone makes bad decisions. Hungry FIFA Voting Committee members. Sad Britain’s Got Talent viewers. The South of England. Kerr. Manchester. Those who opted against the wet Tuesday conditions, unlucky. With The LaFontaines inaugural album out now, chances are you’ve missed your chance to change the way your summer soundtrack will sound.
Words by Clive K Hammond