Laura Stevenson



by AugustAir USER (5 Reviews)
January 17th, 2016 | 72 replies

Release Date: 10/30/2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: It's no Wheel. But hey, it ain't trying to be.

Laura Stevenson (and the Cans") is/are back with a follow-up to one of my favorites records from 2013, Wheel. However, this new album is markedly less ambitious than Wheel, which I believe was intentional of Laura. I recall reading that Cocksure was going to be more of a straight-up rock record, assumedly lacking the heavier folksy influence and sheer diversity of Wheel. On one hand, I was disappointed with this proclamation, considering Wheel's diversity was a big reason for my prolonged enjoyment, as it gave the record HUGE staying power. On the other hand, and as contradictory as it may sound, I can't say I was too interested in a Wheel 2.0. So going into this record, I was hoping for a lean injection of that punk-ish Laura Stevenson charm that I'm addicted to.

With all of that said, Cocksure left me about 75% quenched (at first). Right from the beginning, I was treated to her wonderful, delicate voice amidst sparse instrumentation, up until opener “Out With a Whimper” bursts, showing its true colors, and fulfilling Laura's proclamation, lavishing in a great classic rock n' roll throw-down. The guitars wiggle and crunch nicely, and the song ends far more bombastically than it enters, with Laura shouting louder than she had anywhere on Wheel. 2 of the pre-release songs follow, and they both share very similar vibes. They are almost counterparts to one another, with “Torch Song” being the rock n' roll side to “Jellyfish's” more punk-centered leanings. Both songs are simply great, and there's no two ways about it. “Jellyfish's” lyrics tickle me, listening to cherubic Stevenson's voice wish to “stop being a piece of ***”, as undeniable punk spirit carries the song briskly along. But, if my enjoyment of “Jellyfish” burned like a healthy, yet paper-heavy fire, “Torch Song” burns like a professionally-made log fire, having yet to go out! This song has stayed in my head far longer than expected, as it really is a rather unassuming rock song. There's just something about “Torch Song's” concoction that is truly enduring, being partially responsible for the eventual rise from my initial 75% figure.

Now, I won't examine the rest of the album with that level of specificity, as not quite as much can be said, bringing me to my slight disappointment. The album simply has far less going on, which means less to ponder and explore. After a few listens, I had already begun to nearly memorize the entire album. Wheel felt sprawling to me, which took considerable time to fully unpack. It could be that it was my first album of hers, but I just can't shake this feeling with her new album. To be fair, she did warn me! But that obviously doesn't excuse all that much. Artists in the past have succeeded in creating amazing albums that were lean and homogenous, but those albums require a very high level of consistency and baseline quality that Cocksure falls just short of. When I say “just short”, I mean that it fell just short of being the amazing album that I was hoping for (a.k.a. the leaner counterpart to Wheel's success in diversity). It certainly has both the consistency and quality to be considered quite great, and objectively speaking, I gleaned enough enjoyment from Cocksure to permit the 4.0 rating I'm giving it.

The remaining upbeat punk songs of the album are all pretty great. “Emily in Half” is a great tune that harkens back to feel-good pop tracks of the 90's. “Happier, Etc.”, probably the fastest track on the album, bobs and weaves to perfect effect, with Laura providing her signature harmonies to certainly one of my favorites tracks of the album. “Life is Long” is also a solid track; the melodies really work, and both Laura and her gang of punks shine at parts like, “I quit. I don't want to be sick. I don't want to be sick no more.”

Me being the rather rigid person that I am, binaries unfailingly form in almost everything I perceive. So, simply put, there are 6 very great songs on Cocksure, and 5 that I do not find very great (although the 5 are not equally liked/disliked). Of these 5 are primarily the slower, interlude-y tracks, such as “Ticker Tape” and “Fine Print”. While not annoying or frustrating in any way, they fail to incite any emotion, whether it's excitement or tranquility. “Diet of Worms” bodes similarly, although not as interlude-y as the aforementioned two. “Claustrophobe” feels like a “Torch Song” that fails to stick, and unfortunately, the final track (“Tom Sawyer / You Know Where You Can Find Me”) relies too heavily on a few vocal melodies of Laura's that just don't quite work, in my opinion (the “ooh's” and “Can you make do"”). And this is coming from someone who could listen to Laura sing the dictionary and be mesmerized. I found “L-DOPA” to be a far more affecting track in that vein of Laura's repertoire, and as the final track, I was ultimately disappointed.

Alright, can I be nice to Laura again" I can understand one being frustrated with my seemingly inconsistent opinion of Laura and Cocksure, but I think we all make this pitfall to some degree when analyzing one of our favorite artists. There's a lot of fun to be had with Cocksure, and while it's no Wheel (a.k.a. a masterpiece), it is certainly worth a listen if any sort of punk spirit flows through you and your music, and/or you're a sucker for a tender, delicate, yet simultaneously lively female voice. Thank you, Laura and co. Can't wait to catch you in Michigan on your upcoming tour.

user ratings (171)

Comments:Add a Comment 
January 17th 2016


don't talk about yourself so much in reviews (you are not interesting)

album is lazy bollocks

January 17th 2016


Album Rating: 2.5

I will never understand the hype for her

January 17th 2016


Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah there's a lot references to yourself here which the review could do without.

'It certainly has both the consistency and quality to be considered quite great, and objectively speaking, I gleaned enough enjoyment from Cocksure to permit the 4.0 rating I'm giving it.'

This sentence doesn't add anything to the review. You pretty much make this point in the review as a whole so no need to state it so explicitly.

That aside, I agree with most of what you said and the review is not too bad overall. Surprised it took so long for someone to cover it.

Album is good, but as you say it's no Wheel.

January 17th 2016


Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks for the feedback, guys. Noted. I understand how much I enjoy writing about myself, and I don't see that changing, frankly. AngryJohnny, my reason for including that sentence was for clarification. But your point is clear, I understand. Thanks for the honesty.

January 17th 2016


absolutely no problems with writing about yourself for your own pleasure or w/e but in the case of a music review you may want to consider your audience and the harsh truth that nobody cares/wants to hear you bang on about yourself

on the other hand if this is something you're just doing for fun and don't care what anyone thinks then go for your life matey :]

January 17th 2016


Album Rating: 4.0

I hear ya, man. I guess you could say I'm doing this for fun. I'd rather develop my writing including me talking about myself, even if it means taking the high road. I know you're just speaking the truth, though.

January 17th 2016


right on dude enjoy yourself

January 17th 2016


Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

album is justttt a little bit less incredible than Wheel and Sit, Resist. I can understand people's disappointment but the hate for this album in general is a little much imo

Digging: Blessed (CAN) - Salt

January 18th 2016


yeah this album rules

January 18th 2016


Album Rating: 3.5

Is this more exciting than Wheel

Digging: Glen Hansard - This Wild Willing

January 18th 2016


Album Rating: 3.5

it's a straight-up rock record for the most part - so in a certain sense, yeah, it is more exhilarating.

Digging: Nilufer Yanya - Miss Universe

January 18th 2016


binaries unfailingly form in almost everything I perceive

Damn you, binaries!

January 18th 2016



January 18th 2016


goddamn fuckin binaries!

don't worry man i get them too

January 18th 2016


Album Rating: 3.0

Laura looks just like my ex. Which fucking sucks, because I love her music

Digging: Karen O and Danger Mouse - Lux Prima

January 18th 2016


Album Rating: 3.0

Wheel is leaps and bounds better than this really.

January 18th 2016


Laura looks just like my ex.

My condolences.

February 2nd 2016


Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

First song is God Tier then I turn it off

Digging: Neurosis - Official Bootleg - Live in Stockholm

February 23rd 2016


Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Out With a Whimper

Tom Sawyer/You Know Where You Can Find Me

Life is Long



Diet of Worms

Torch Song

Ticker Tape

Emily in Half

Fine Print

Happier, Ect.

Big gap between the first two and the rest, though.

March 15th 2016


Album Rating: 2.0

fuck this

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