Laura by Spruke
Katana & Tonic



by jsaf7 USER (5 Reviews)
February 28th, 2014 | 4 replies

Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Buffalo producer Spruke and vocalist Laura Grace serve up quite an interesting 8-bit punk album, that combines loud, distorted drums and synth leads, raw acoustic guitar picking, and 8-bit video game samples.

When it comes to my musical preference, i listen to a variety of different genres, but tend to gravitate towards music that either conveys strong emotions with a good melody, pushes boundaries in any aspect really (yes, i know, that's probably what most everyone on this site enjoys) or that you can't pin down into one particular genre. With this record, i found myself enjoying it for both the second and the third reason, and i'll get into why in the review.
The first thing that was instantly noticeable to me about the album at first listen is how the grimy, lo-fi production quality of the record complements the dense, thickly layered instrumentation of almost every track on here. While this may sound like these two things together would be jarring and inconsistent, it actually creates quite an interesting dynamic between the instrumentation and the sound quality. This production style can sometimes make the songs sound a bit sloppy, and it does make it very difficult to decipher what vocalist Laura Grace is singing/rapping about in many of these songs. Mainly because alot of the loud, abrasive synths, the 8-bit video game samples, and the heavy electronic drum beats swallow up the clarity of the vocals. Despite the few setbacks this album might have, i really enjoyed the record.

Starting off with the vocals/lyrics, Laura Grace's vocal performance on most of the rapped tracks is delivered in a very exaggerated fashion, which can give some tracks a flirty, seductive tone, especially on the title track and "Armchair Girlfriend". And when you pile the sarcastic, cocky lyrical content, which revolves around subjects as diverse as geek culture, gaming, one night stands, partying, drinking, and the tragedies that are a result of such decisions, and the digital Microsoft Sam-like sonic quality that is present on top of this, It gives the vocals kind of a robotic vibe. This isn't necessarily a bad thing though… The tone fits extremely well with Spruke’s production, and makes it seem like any other vocal technique would be ill-fitting.

While many of the tracks that feature Laura singing such as “Lovely Lately” and “The Shrug” have a very melancholy tone to them, the former almost gives me the heavy feeling that I would get from a Daniel Johnston song. Only this song is mainly synth-driven and features various key/tempo changes as opposed to Daniel Johnston’s songs which are usually acoustic guitar/piano based. The latter track, “The Shrug” is perhaps the best song on the album. The lyrics are rather ambiguous but they appear to be about someone whose life has become a disaster due to the effects of binge drinking. The chorus is undeniably catchy, yet fits the dark undertone and lyrical content of the song perfectly.

Irony and sarcasm are presented in the first track aptly titled “I Hate”. Once you’ve heard this song, you can pretty much expect this musical style for most of the tracks that are rapped on the album, but what makes this track stand out is the lyrical content. Which I must admit, poking fun at girls of all different types never sounded so ridiculous, yet so memorable at the same time. Once you hear the hook, it’s bound to get stuck in your head for the next several hours whether you want it there or not. The hook on the title track is remarkably catchy and unique also. And the dirty electro-industrial drum beat that propels this song forward which almost sounds like a toss-up between Death Grips and Nine inch nails, especially in the cacophonous mess that is the last 2 minutes of the song, where Spruke adds loads of sound effects and broken glass to the mix, making for an epic listen. It’s without a doubt the grimiest part of the album and probably my favorite part as well.

The track Technologic is where the “Microsoft Sam” vocal delivery and sound quality are at their most intense, mainly because of the songs robotic lyrics and 2 word cadence, (Buy it, use it, break it, fix it, trash it, change it, mail upgrade it/Charge it, point it, zoom it, press it, snap it, work it, quick erase it) The song is very dynamic with all the beat changes, and flows extremely well. It’s overall a pretty enjoyable song. Although it’s obviously subjective of me to say this, the album has few flaws really. The farty synths on the track “Easy” can get kind of irritating while listening, especially with the slow pace of the song. But aside from that, the songwriting on this album is actually really good. It doesn’t seem like there’s ever a note out of place, yet still manages to grasp that raw visceral feel that punk rock has. Normally, I’d think mixing electronics with anything would “plasticize” it more, but in this case it’s the opposite. Everything from the lo-fi acoustic guitars, to the 8-bit samples, to the synth-drums sound extremely organic, which is a major plus for this album. Another big plus that this album has to offer is that there really aren’t any tracks that could be considered “Filler”. Every song has its’ place and purpose in the album. Whether that purpose be to get your head bobbing to the beat, or to sing along, it does a pretty good job at both.

Best tracks:

I Hate
Katana & Tonic
Lovely Lately
The Shrug

user ratings (1)

Comments:Add a Comment 
February 28th 2014


Album Rating: 3.0

Hope you guys enjoy the review!! i'm not all that well-versed in this style of music, so the review certainly isn't top-notch or anything, but i did my best.

February 28th 2014


Album Rating: 3.0


you guys can stream the album at the link above assuming you have spotify, if not you can find it on youtube.

March 1st 2014


Some oddly worded sections/transitions, but overall good review man. I remember you mentioning this at work the other day,
so I'll have to check it out now

March 3rd 2014


Album Rating: 3.0

yea, thanks for letting me know about that... for some reason i typed out the whole thing but only half of the summary showed... the rest of it said "Fans of sleigh bells & death grips might enjoy this album" or something like that i'll try to fix it now.

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