Baba Ali return with the follow-up to their 2020 debut Memory Device having doubled down on the funk, frenzy and paranoia. The duo took up residency at LCD Soundsystem’s Al Doyle’s studio, the brand-new record was created in a three-week frenzy, produced by the band in collaboration with Ross Orton.
The ultimate result of the three-week studio visit is Laugh Like A Bomb, a record which takes the core ingredients from Memory Device and hones them into a distilled concentration of electronic punk. The album’s title is borrowed from 20th Century radical art manifesto BLAST! that Baba had encountered on tour: the energy and sentiment from BLAST! Is radical and reformist – the manifesto-like zine was a pre-WW1 document that helped shape British modern art. This sentiment and energy isn’t Baba Ali’s in title alone, the avant-garde nature of the document is deep within the bones of the new album.
‘Hold My Head’ and lead single ‘Burn Me Out’ are markers in the sand for the duo, electronic beats and wandering synths combine with Ali’s punky vocals to create something pretty unique: this is fresh and interesting already, and the duo’s growth from album one is apparent from the outset. The record has a very ‘late night’ feel to it, the kind of album that would be at home in an underground European club, or a late-night coffee shop.
Laugh Like A Bomb comes into its own in the final third of the record, however. ‘A Circle’ is a supremely catchy number with all the sensibilities of a cut that would be at home on the 6 Music A list, but the layered synths, beats and harmonies elevate the cut to brand new heights. Off beat pauses and breaks with snappy drums make the track a brainworm that nestles itself into your frontal loeb for weeks at a time.
The album peaks with ‘Bankrupt Frank’, another stuttering off beat number that is dynamic and interesting, with a distinct flavour of Working Mens Club about it: Orton’s fingerprints are all over this record to great effect. The cut builds to an electronic reverie, like experiencing a frenetic and funky come-up behind dark shades in a happening night spot, before fading out.
Laugh Like A Bomb is a distinct progression from Baba Ali’s debut, with the duo showing noise and maturity throughout the new record to fantastic effect. The electro-punk transcends genres and pushes boundaries with great results.
photo credit: Garry Jones