30 Jul 2009 // A review by lukefitzmaurice
The press release that came with this album read, “When listening to Good Laika’s sophomore album Followed by a Trail of Sparks, you could be forgiven for thinking you’d stumbled across some lost soul’s travel diary.” It was an interesting introduction to an album, so I sat with eager anticipation as I played it through for the first time.
After listening to it a few times through, I couldn’t help but beg to differ. At first, I couldn’t quite pinpoint why this was the case, but eventually I figured it out. You see, my personal travel diaries have always been reasonably hap-hazard affairs, hastily thrown together before being abandoned in pursuit of whatever exciting activity my travel’s through at me next. But Followed by a Trail of Sparks is far more than a collection of cut-and-paste memory triggers, so personally I felt the travel diary analogy didn’t do the album justice. To me the record seemed less like a day-to-day journal and more like the memoirs of a well travelled, wise old man, a detailed reflection of years gone by rather than an on-the-spot recollection of the days events.
The reason for this, and don’t worry I will get onto what the album actually sounds like, is that Good Laika have clearly taken the time to put as much time and effort into their second album as they did their first. All too often, especially when a band’s debut album is well-received, a sophomore album falls short, purely because of a self-imposed expectation to reproduce whatever it was that made that first album good, but that clearly hasn’t happened here. The track listing on the back of the album is exquisitely scribed, as though it were hand written, and the songs themselves feel equally intricate. When I first read that Good Laika had been together seven years and yet produced only two albums, I was surprised, but after listening to the intricacy of the songs on Followed by a Trail of Sparks it is not surprising in the slightest.
As for the actual sound of the album, most of the songs are a refreshingly subdued blend of indie, rock, soul and folk. At times it sounded a little like Fly My Pretties, or winter’s answer to The Woolshed Sessions, but at no point did the album seem to lose its uniqueness. Predominantly guitar driven, most of the songs are slow and mellow, but despite this the album never loses momentum. It made a fitting soundtrack to an at times bitterly cold July, but i have no doubt it would be just as good all year round. For that reason, I would highly recommend it.