[14 December 2009]
Anyone in need of a catchy indie-pop sugar rush frothing with humorous, whip-smart lyrics could do a lot worse than check out the Corner Laughers. Ultraviolet Garden finds the Bay Area quartet, while not exactly wigging out like rock gods, picking up the pace and adding deft power-pop touches to its mixture of ukulele-led sunshine folk-pop and girl-group harmonies and handclaps from its 2006 debut Tomb of the Leopards. Helped out by the Orange Peel’s Allen Clapp in the producer’s chair and Charlie Crabtree, permanent “bad-ass” drummer since 2007, Karla Kane (lead singer/ukulele), Angela Stilletto (guitar/backing vocals), and multi-instrumentalist Khoi Huynh regale us with melodic story-songs of fickle lovers (“For the Sake of the Cat”, “Dark Horse”), ghostly catacombs (“Dead Sicilians”), the extinction of an unconfirmed species of giant bird (“Thunderbird”), and an epic lullaby about earth’s total destruction (“Space Echo”). (“Space Echo” sounds like someone has watched WALL-E more than just the once.) With these 13 cuts jauntily breezing by in an economical 39 minutes, Ultraviolet Garden feels like a place that Camera Obscura, They Might Be Giants, and Kirsty McColl might have strolled through at some stage. It’s simply wonderful.