Laminate Pet Animal, Inertia

Oscar Hyde makes his debut at Culture Vultures with an exemplary review of the up-and-coming Laminate Pet Animal’s new EP Inertia…

The EP begins with slow burner ‘Heights’. Thomas’s warmly reverbed, mildly vocoded voice echoes over synths, drifting snatches of acoustic guitar, and some surprisingly complex electrical percussion. The chords veer from the standard saccharine progressions associated with ambience; Thomas adds hints of jazz before anything becomes too predictable, and turns his voice melismatic to accompany the softly soulful vibe. It’s a tribute to his arranging skills that when classic 80s electric piano notes chime in, they don’t sound at all dated; they just roll around in the fuzzy velvet soundscape. The beat picks up for the last third of the song in an extra twist; electronic wiggles and burbles swat at the song’s tassels, but never feel overwhelming, just a charmingly cheerful and chill crescendo.

‘Don’t Wait for Me’ arrives with a spring in its step—a melancholy spring, however; a swinging faux-country lament, complete with bluesy claps, rolling like the surface of the sea. The reverb effects on his voice are much cleaner and warmer than might be expected for the genre, but genre-bending is always more than welcome. Once again, the song picks up the pace towards the end, turning the claps into the basis for a neat little groove.

The final track, ‘There Is Nothing to Say’, dips more fully into ambient structures; floating, backmasked synths and fragmented piano are interspersed with dialogue clips (in stark contrast with the song’s title!), nearly aimlessly. It’s all quite dreamy until everything’s stripped away to a simple acoustic guitar and Thomas’s voice… then slowly triumphant synths arise, forming, together with the guitar, another swinging rhythm, though far less urgent than the bluesier near-stomp of the last track.

While the large-scale song structures become predictable by the end of the EP—the softer noodling always builds to something exciting and dense, though never anthemic—there are still more than enough sonic twists and turns for me to recommend it. Laminate Pet Animal have constructed an imaginative, enjoyable, and comforting foray into this no-man’s-land between acoustic songsmanship and downbeat electronica.