To Live And Shave In L.A.: Starring Tom Smith's voice.
That's a plausible summation of TLASILA's recorded output. Not exactly
helpful and definitely not thorough, but it is more or less accurate.
Of course, Tom Smith has been the proverbial Nick Mason, or Anton
Newcombe, of the band. That is to say, the only constant member. And
like Newcombe, and not so much like Mason — the alpha and omega — one
can, and must, track the evolution of the group through him. So, we go
into any TLASILA record with a curiosity as to what TS has dreamt up.
And to wit, being a rat of Hamelin has been a worthwhile pursuit: from
the collagery and unhingedness of 30-minuten männercreme to the
singular brutality of Vedder Vedder Bedwetter to the
(comparably) restrained musicality and techno of Amour Fou on the
Edge of Misogyny. This brings us to the shining moment of the new
millennium's musical output, The Wigmaker in Eighteenth Century
Williamsburg. It is this album that wins TS's abhorrence of the
explicative "noise" acceptability and furthermore drives you to
reconsider appreciating anything that bills itself as noise. There can
surely be no music that is simultaneously so pummeling to your
visceral senses and so utterly exquisite. Every horrible sound is
heard in perfect fidelity, every sonic contrast thoroughly effective.
We are thus formally introduced to the real star of a To Live and
Shave in L.A. record, Tom Smith's curatorial abilities.
Noon and Eternity marries these two forces in a heretofore
unfamiliar way. The previously raw tumult of Tom's vocals has been
replaced with disciplined concordance with the whole. No longer
fettered with his dense and verbose poetry, his voice can work purely
as the worthy instrument that it had only inconsistently been before.
And whatever the motives may be, Noon and Eternity is eminently
listenable for almost any audience that might be inclined to listen to
a TLASILA record, or read this review for that matter. While
indubitably canonical, it strikes far out from the pack; it does
resemble the new form of psych that the press pack suggests. Rarely
does the intent turn to abrasiveness, and if it does, it is entirely
justified as part of an arcing narrative. This is the most
conventional and, meanwhile, possibly the most completely realized To
Live and Shave album. Not quite (nearly?) the achievement that was
The Wigmaker, Noon and Eternity ought to make waves not
quite as big, but further reaching, this time as a result of Tom Smith
and TLASILA as a whole.
1. This Home And Fear
2. Early 1880's
3. Percent Obstruct Street
4. Mothers Over Silverpoint