A melting pot of influences, Scotland’s The LaFontaines have been steadily refining their blend of rap and rock for nearly a decade. Now a three-piece and with drummer Jamie Keenan now also bringing in some additional vocals, third LP ‘Junior’ is the strongest record of the band’s career.
Handling guitar and production duties, Darren McCaughey binds glitched vocals and distorted pads to Kerr Okan‘s fevered rapping on opener, ‘All In’. Building tension and breaking it on a whim, the track builds towards Keenan‘s harmonic chorus, one that bursts with jagged guitars and a swinging energy.
The inclusion of Keenan‘s vocals adds a new element to the group’s sound, as evidenced in ‘Pro’. Navigating funk and soul, the drummer injects lush harmonies against staccato guitar chords and shuffling beats. Taking his register down lower, Okan moves from his high energy rapping to push the track along.
Offsetting its predecessor, ‘Up’ sees Okan tearing through his verses with intensity as he trades off from Keenan‘s falsetto. Feeding off from one another, the dual vocal style that runs through the record ties together the various influences present.
Taking an eclectic range of styles, McCaughey moves from the stomping guitars that drive ‘Alpha’ towards salsa inspired melodies to weave around the fast-paced ‘Anything At All’. Whilst moving around multiple styles, the group uses these elements sparingly, allowing the tracks to ebb and flow without losing their impact.
Ending the record on the one-two punch of ‘Tomorrow Won’t Worry Me’ and ‘Body’, the group distil their blend of styles in under seven minutes. From sliding guitar notes and dual vocal harmonies, the cut moves from laid back hooks to choppy grooves at ease. Highlighting the integral role of the drums in their style, Keenan moves the energy towards a strong climax.
An economic record, the group don’t outstay their welcome, preferring to deliver bursts of energy and strong hooks. By taking this approach, ‘Junior’ opens a new avenue for the Scottish trio whilst retaining the charm and energy of its predecessors. Their style may not be for everyone, but nevertheless The LaFontaines do it well.