Cork-based, Wirral-born Laurie Shaw has to be one of the most prolific artists in the whole of the music industry. At just 23 years of age he’s thought to have released close to 30 albums. All of which are ‘available on request’. Seems like the musical equivalent of the 1281 goals Pele says he scored in his career, counting every tap in scored between two abandoned jumpers against his six-year-old neighbour who coincidentally was suffering with croup at the time. In Shaw’s case exaggeration doesn’t come in to play.
‘Weird Weekends’ is his first record with significant pre-emptive buzz, it doesn’t disappoint. An ode to the exciting unpredictability of clammy palmed adolescence, the “Will she? Won’t he? Is anyone ever going to?!?” of the first sticky steps into the nightclub scene. It’s a record that trembles with uncertainty and hope in equal measure, like the teenagers intricately sketched within each song ‘Weird Weekends’ is clumsily trying to shed its innocence.
There’s a short film of the making of the record online, it’s basically Shaw recording the whole thing on his own in his bedroom. A picture of Jarvis Cocker adorns the wall and it’s clear that Pulp are an influence here, early Pulp for the off-kilter melodies and Casio keyboards, peak Pulp for the forensically detailed lyrics. Inserts and Sophistication are the most acute examples of this. Both insanely catchy tales of hormone induced romance drenched in a more sinister veneer.
Skipped Period Blues is a straight forward enough acoustic ballad about the complications of a teenage girl’s love life but it’s so densely detailed that the four minutes just disappear. It also manages to immortalise the line “Now there is another, he’s a little older. He knows the right spot on your shoulder to put his lips and make you wish you were down in Rino caught between his chinos, sipping chilled pinot grigio”. A couple of these songs are touching the eight minute mark, that your attention never wanders is a testament to Shaw’s immense talent as a song writer.
There are absolutely no clichés in the lyrics, lines like the opener of Shatterproof “You drank your sauvignon blanc, like some horny single mother. The floor was damp, and the wine was rank, and the night was split like a lip.” evoke familiarity while being completely original. In that sense lofty comparisons with the likes of Nick Cave and Tom Waits aren’t off the mark for this record. Only instead of someone getting murdered with a shiny little gun someone’s getting fingered by a nervous lad who’s failing biology.
That ‘Weird Weekends’ doesn’t rely too heavily on any one particular genre or influence makes it all the more engaging. Obviously there are touchstones, the aforementioned Pulp and the balladeer wing of Arctic Monkeys’ ‘Suck it and See’ are two that spring to mind.
All of the songs on ‘Weird Weekends’ stand on their own but it is most definitely meant to be consumed whole, it’s a bit like a Terry’s Chocolate Orange in that way.
This is a record worth disappearing into.