All The Rage

Latimer House

Honk Records, 2014

REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer


Where would you find a nice English gentleman brimming with his native caustic humor and unbridled pessimism? Why, in Prague of course! At least, this is true in the case of Latimer House, a group of foreigners that all came together in the Czech Republic to record music: drummer Jiří Kominek is from Toronto, keyboardist Anar Yusufov is from Baku, and bassist Michael Jetton is from Virginia. Finally, there is the British native, Joe Cook, who is the guitarist and vocalist for this collective.

In the vein of acts like XTC and Madness, Latimer House’s music is a Beatles-inspired flavor of Britpop. The music is undeniably British, but it is Cook’s vocals that really put the “Brit” stamp on it. Cook has a kind of vocal delivery similar to Lou Reed, in which he doesn’t sing as much as he speaks the words. Meanwhile, the acerbity in his lyrics makes his delivery style all the more potent and perfect. His accent just spews Britishness, and his words have a sharp sardonic tone, even when he is not trying to sting. A perfect example of this is the leadoff track on my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 All The Rage, “This Is Pop.”  With its jangly guitars and its title, it has all the trappings of a cheerful and happy pop song – except for the words: “Jack’s colors are fading…and under strain” he sings in reference to England and “46 million on food stamps in the land of the make-it-big” while referring to America.

Despite their melodic and easily accessible music, the guys of Latimer House would wish nothing but to be anti-pop heroes. Their version of Britpop is far subdued and humble compared to some of the other bands of this genre that pretty much ruled pop music in the ‘90s. This band surely likes to poke fun at pop music culture. Take the album’s closing track “Bubblegum” for instance, which features the words: “We all want to be like you…you’re happy, rich and free / You’re what we want to be / See you on the stage and screen, so beautiful and clean…” This disdain for pop even shows in the ironic album cover for All The Rage, which is a random mishmash of images that are bright, flashy, and eye-catching; and yet they are also tacky, jarring, and lacking any meaningful substance.

But there is also a softer side to Latimer House, which is best depicted on “Your Love,” a smooth, romantic cut where the singing and the music are hushed to a whisper, lending itself as a perfect soundtrack for lounging with your partner on a lazy evening sipping on wine and gazing into each other’s eyes. Cook softly conveys the mood of the situation when he sings: “I want to put my arms around you / Feel your warmth and breathe your breath / Swim in the fluid touch of…your love.” Latimer House is by no means all rage and no love. The guys just have an unconventional way of expressing their love, that’s all.

Rating: B

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© 2014 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 Honk Records, and is used for informational purposes only.