June 28, 2004

Lali Puna "Faking The Books"

Over the past two years, Germany's Morr Music has established itself as one of Europe's premier electronic music labels. With a distinctive roster, Morr's reputation has ensured that any record that bears its logo is going to be of excellent quality, and the music will be cool as the autumn and as sedate as valium. We need more labels with such commitments, don't you think? It's true that anyone can make a record full of bleeps and blips, but Morr only gives you the best.

Enter Lali Puna's third album, Faking the Books. I'd never heard the music of this German quartet before, but I felt pretty confident that it was going to be cool, mellow electronica, and from the channel tricks on the opening "Faking the Books," such assumptions seemed sound. Valerie Trebeljahr's cool, seductive singing is instantly engaging and arousing; her croon is a whispered 'I love you' in your ear. But just when you think you've got Lali Puna pegged, they throw away the soothing washes of keyboards and they turn up the pulse, the beat, the whatever it is you call it, and go all Rock and Roll on you. Songs like "Micronomic" and "B-Movie" are inspired more by the sounds of American Indie-Rock than the cold, detatched Berlin electronica scene. Stereolab comparisons are apt, as are Broadcast, but the jangly guitars on "Left Handed" makes me think that Unrest is an underrated influence on today's scene.

Don't think that Lali Puna's all about jangly guitars, because they are also about groove-laden hooks, full of melody and utterly sexy grooves that would make Beth Gibbons jealous. I wouldn't be surprised if "Alienation," "Crawling By Numbers" and "Small Thing" are this summer's soundtrack to conception, either. I like the fact that Lali Puna can make the switch from rock and roll to seductive electronica and downbeat jazz grooves without ever sounding like it's an artistic stretch. It's rare for a band to be so talented in so many styles, and it's even rarer for them to pull off making an album that's so diverse in nature, but they've done it, bless them.

Faking the Books is a great little record. It's diverse enough to sustain your interest in where they're going to do next, yet it's brief enough to not get overwhelmed by too many musical ideas. Lali Puna have made the perfect record for spring, summer, fall and winter, night and day, boy and girl, indie-pop, indie rock or electronica--no matter what style or direction they go, you're assured that it's going to be cool, making Faking the Books a wonderful treat!

--Joseph Kyle

Artist Website: http://www.lalipuna.de
Label Website: http://www.morrmusic.com

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