It’s been a long time coming, but finally the debut album from The LaFontaines, often cited as a candidate for Scotland’s hottest current live act, has landed.
‘Slow Elvis’ is a growling introduction; the heavy rock feel may lead newcomers to believe the band are Scotland’s Rage Against the Machine, a misguided perception soon to be destroyed.
The playful handclaps of ‘Under the Storm’ follow, making way for verses of swaggering rap; this 2014 single is a cocktail of indie rock, rap and hip hop with a large dash of pop thrown in, and its rip-roaring conclusion of soaring guitars and angsty vocals is a triumphant finale.
Title track ‘Class’ is next as an infectious beat underpins a poignant analysis of class difference, in what is as impressive a track as it is relevant to today’s society; the closing mantra of “make the money, don’t make the money make you” is wonderfully reminiscent of the sort of iconic lyrics once found next to MSN Messenger usernames back in the day.
A nod to Twin Atlantic follows with a loud dose of stadium rock combining with emotive lyrics in ‘Castles’.
Latest single ‘King’ is a definite highlight, a song that audibly drips with tenacity and style; the track is a great example of the band at their cocky best, as the gritty, broadly Scottish rapping of Kerr Okan marries with addictive basslines and indie pop choruses.
‘Junior Dragon’ emphasises the Fonts’ skill in creating their own brand of rock rap as guitar driven melodies lead the song through a fast-paced and head-banging tune.
There’s a flavour of Stateside power-pop throughout both ‘All Gone’ and ‘Window Seat’; the former boasting singalong choruses, while the latter sees a delicate intro paving the way into an impressive track with attitude at the fore.
‘All She Knows’ has been around for a couple of years now and yet still maintains a freshness on the album; tender vocals on the chorus ooze genuine emotion, rivalled by the authenticity expressed in Okan’s rapping, showing a more fragile side to the quintet.
The fantastic ‘Paper Chase’ provides the penultimate experience; reworked successfully for its album incarnation, it is a fantastically scathing attack on the monotonous, ambitionless rat race typical of modern life, with brutal truths softened by humour and a buoyant conclusion.
Just when it seems like the Fonts couldn’t span any more genres, ‘Pull Me Back’ – a darker, echoing, piano-led ballad – finishes things off; its role of closing the album suggesting a band full of self-assurance and the courage to take risks.
Throughout their existence the Fonts have evolved brilliantly while continually raising the bar, more often than not in the live arena; now the studio benchmark has been set with one of the Scottish albums of the year thus far, a release which closes a chapter of anticipation and begins another of possibility.
If there’s one thing that Class exclaims with total clarity, it’s The LaFontaines have all the confidence and determination to continue strutting on their well-deserved upwards trajectory.
Words: Jason Henderson