Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Local Rabbits - Basic Concept (1998, Murder)

Hard to believe this band's first and third albums were so utterly polarizing (to my ears anyway).  In fact I don't have a solid idea of what the Local Rabbits debut, 1996's You Can't Touch This, was all about, because on the two occasions I attempted to listen to it I was repulsed enough by the second or third song in I gave in to my compulsion to yank the thing out of my CD player.  I remember it having an unseasoned and unfocused air to it, and the fact that they went to the trouble of covering John Lee Hooker didn't do anyone any favors.  Ugh.  What a difference six years made, because by 2002's This Is It Here We Go, I was fully onboard thanks to the seemingly multiple quantum leaps these Montreal natives were responsible for.  The link above will take you to my critique of that LP, but in a nutshell, the quartet in question got exponentially more sophisticated from that off-putting debut, and post-Y2K they had fused bona fide singer/songwriter chops with retro yacht-rock tangents aplenty.  This Is It... was outright dazzling, and to this day I'm still stunned how a band who were so mediocre on the launch pad delivered such a devastating moon shot a mere six years later. Sadly, that's the last we heard from the Local Rabbits.

If you've gotten this far, you might be asking what of the band's crucial "transitional" second album?  Well, it was called Basic Concept and was an immense progression from their comparatively frivolous baby steps. I should also point out that L/R were on Sloan's Murderecords label.  They never particularly sounded like Sloan, but they did have something invaluably in common with the Halifax boys-done-good.  Much like Chris Murphy & Co. the Rabbits possessed multiple not to mention adept singer/songsmiths in Peter Elkas and Ben Gunning.  On Basic Concept they hadn't pulled out all the bells and whistles yet, but the record housed genuinely melodic, mature and stimulating tunes like "When You Return" and "Nightingale."  Further in we get nascent previews of the next album's diverse streaks by way of the sax 'n' keys enhanced ballad "Read How You Read" and the textured "Lowdown on the Download," a piece concerning romance in the recently-gone-mainstream digital era.  Again, the Rabbit's didn't fully emerge from the fabled "hat" until they got around to the full-bloom This Is It... but Basic Concept was genuinely respectable if not always consistently rewarding.

01. Our Life
02. When You Return
03. Play On
04. This Lengthy Glance
05. Nightingale
06. High School Hierarchy
07. Read How You Read
08. Stomp Your British Knights Down
09. The Deal
10. Something So Big
11. Keep it Down
12. Lowdown on the Download

1 comment:

Failsafe said...

A strange band seemingly throwing in all their chips on a bet that 70s production with 70s decade tinges (including disco) was going to make a big comeback at the turn of the millennium. They would have been well ahead of the curve if it did, ..... They really do commit to it though.
I wonder what this would sound like with a different production style?