I Only Laugh When It Hurts


Quasi Recordings, 2005

REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer


I Only Laugh When It Hurts is a follow-up to Butterface's 2004 debut Popskull. When a band makes a great record, and knows that it has created a great record, it goes through some amount of pressure -- if not none -- when it sets out to work on the follow-up (ask Coldplay), and in that process, invariably tries a new and experimental sound. As for the question of how well these new avatars work for the band, is something irrelevant in the present discussion.

I Only Laugh… is a typical successor to a great record. It has a different sound, and the band has a new attitude. Popskull had everything an aspiring alt-rock act like Butterface -- and an average listener of such a record -- would want in a debut: well-crafted uncomplicated rock songs with crisp and catchy hooks, which flow effortlessly from an outfit that seems to be playing at its best.

I Only Laugh… is Popskull minus the catchiness, simple choruses, and the general feeling of well-being. It is raw, complete with sharp claws and menacing teeth, and it is out to sink them into the listener's ears and enjoy the sight of the slow bleeding process.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The opener "Temptation" sets it all up for the rest of the record to follow: A slow intro builds up into a rage-ridden chaotic temper, in the midst of which singer Jerry Rig bawls out in full fury, "You had the choice, but you gave into temptation," as if to say "suffer, dude, suffer, and you're to blame for it," not making things any easier for the sufferer.

"Temptation," nevertheless, is an awesome rock song, giving a perfect "punch-in-the-face" effect. The album gets better and meaner, but the songs still rock and are still awesome. Particularly, "Where Have You Gone," "Slow," "Impossible," and "Didn't You" give the effect of the unexplainable rush of blood that makes rock music so damn fantastic. However, these tracks are much more aggravated and reprimanding in nature as compared to cuts on Popskull that gave a similar high.

With every experimental record, there is a downside, and which is, its weirdness. And songs that give form to this weirdness often bear the brunt of despoiling the record, for those who fail to understand them. I Only Laugh… has a few of such songs, which are outright eccentric, leaving the listener disillusioned, in a way.

"(Not) Missing You" is the least unconventional of the far-out numbers in album. This number kicks off in a semi-drugged state with some really fine sax-accompaniments, but somewhere mid-way gets sick of its own sluggishness and tries to run away from it as if it is on fire, with Rig screaming "I am not missing you, " as if to say "Run! Fire! Run!" The 33-second long "That Sucking Sound," the 2-minute long "Way To Winger," can be considered as unnecessary fillers, or interesting sound-bytes (that come as a part-and-parcel of every concept album), depending upon which way they are looked at.

I Only Laugh… is not as conventional as Popskull, and is much more moodier. Its moods are much darker and discomposed. It does not have the appeal of Popskull, which can be accepted and appreciated by most listeners wanting to give it a shot. I Only Laugh… may alienate some of Butterface's previous listeners. But the band had to grow up, and I Only Laugh… is a mature effort.

[For more information on Butterface, visit butterface.co.nr]

Rating: B+

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© 2005 Vish Iyer and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Quasi Recordings, and is used for informational purposes only.