Sound — 10
The La's are one of the most mythical bands of the rock and roll era. It's the story of a man, his will, and his songs. This man is Lee Mavers. Lee Mavers joined the Liverpool band in the early 80s and within a couple of years had distinguished himself as a songwriter of considerable skill. Tunes from these early days include Doledrum and Way Out. Soon after, Mavers verged into the songwriting territory occupied by a select few with songs like Son of a Gun, Looking Glass, Timeless Melody, and the absolute classic There She Goes. The sound of the La's can be explained by taking mid-sixties British pop, along with a little Beefheart and Love, and throwing it into a blender. What you get is guitar pop at it's finest. It doesn't break any new musical ground, but that doesn't matter if it's done to perfection. Mavers has made no secret that he despises this album, mainly the sound of the record. In fact, halfway into these recording sessions (as well as in countless others) Mavers and his band walked out. Go! Discs, sick of Mavers' antics, told producer Steve Lillywhite to do the best he could with the available recordings. Remarkably, Lillywhite succeeds. And despite, Mavers' critiques, almost everyone else on the planet disagrees.
Lyrics — 9
Lee Mavers has publicly stated that he struggles with lyrics (and many of his unreleased songs have only a chorus and few verse lyrics) but on this record he does a very fine job. His lyrics are quite deep for being used in a collection of pop songs. On Son of a Gun, he sings of a man's insecurity with himself and with his past (If you want, I'll tell you a life story of a man who's at loggerheads with his past all the time, he's alive and living in purgatory.) On There She Goes, he sings of the that "untouchable" girl in every guy's life, and the effect this girl has on him. Whether Mavers' has the girl or not is left up to interpretation, but that is why the song is so loved and it's message so universal. (And I just can't contain, this feeling that remains.) Mavers' most impressive set of lyrics is Looking Glass-a seven minute expression of loneliness and uncertainty of one's life direction. Rumor is that Mavers wrote this on his birthday, during a reflective moment in his room by himself. Mavers voice truly shines on this track, especially during the verses. Not a ten because of the lyric in IOU "on the streets of knowledge, you must eat your porridge."
Overall Impression — 10
This is one of the essential albums of post-sixties guitar pop. It is very similar to Rubber Soul by the Beatles (the love songs and introspection) and Mod-era Who (the rockers). The most impressive song on the album is obviously There She Goes, a song which everyone has heard, even if they don't know it. However, there are many other gems on the record. Son of a gun is a very melodic song that is just simply hypnotic. I Can't Sleep could easily be mistaken for a Who single circa 1965. Timeless Melody lives up to it's brash name and delivers guitar pop nirvana. Feelin' is a rush and always puts a smile on my face. Looking glass, a seven minute epic, truly takes the cake though. One of the most underrated tracks in the history of popular music, it starts with a lonely guitar figure and an echoing Mavers vocal and slowly builds into a feverish climax during the last minute. Spectacular. I absolutely cherish this album. It's a shame that Mavers and company have not released another album, but at least they left us this record to treasure. A true classic.