Bomp! Records is the granddaddy of American indie. From 1974 until his death last year, founder Greg Shaw kept it real with a steady stream of punk, garage, power pop, and plain ol’ rock’n'roll. This album, then, is of special importance: the Invisible Eyes were the last band to be signed to Bomp! by Greg Shaw himself. And oh man, you can hear why: pounding drums, tempo-pushing tambourine, muddy vocals that wrap themselves around that great Farfisa sound…and did I mention the distortion?
With no less than 16 songs, I should be thinking that Laugh in the Dark is too long. But the point is, unlike mediocre garage rock throwbacks, even the songs that do sound mildly alike are still good enough to make you want to keep dancing. And the range of sound is still amazing: sometimes they’re the Oblivians’ calmer little brothers, other times they’re a more danceable Raveonettes; but the best moments are when they sound simply like the Invisible Eyes, making you bob your head and shake your ass. Moments of dance floor ecstasy happen in the gorgeous “Tired Night” and “Monster Blues” (which once again proves that evil creatures have all the best parties), as well as “Cyclone”. But the slower songs (especially “Luanne”) are enjoyable as well, with their sensual blues sludge and howling misery.
It’s records like these that make me thankful Bomp! Records still exists. This is not to say that this record wouldn’t exist anywhere else – especially here in the Detroit area, where the Invisible Eyes would be revered as Gods among men. But it’s because of Greg Shaw and his great label that the Invisible Eyes can get the attention they so rightly deserve, and that is worth celebrating.
Reviewed by Megan Giddings