Hailing from the Amsterdam underground returns Labasheeda, an art rock group based around multiinstrumentalist Saskia van der Giessen and guitarist Arne Wolfswinkel. Forming almost 20 years ago, Labasheeda has undergone a handful of line up changes, experimenting with different sounds and approaches, and extensive tours all across Europe. They’re known for their stripped back, noisy rock approach not to different from noise rock legends Sonic Youth while mixing a more emotional and relatable writing not too different from 90s college rock standard Sebadoh. With their latest release Blueprints, they’ve created a real distinct sound for themselves, while still holding onto those influences that came before them.
Greeting us with a smooth and clean bass riff, Labasheeda starts off the album strong with a solid drum beat, noisy guitars and Saskia’s dramatic violin that gives this album, and the band as a whole a gothic flare that sets their sound apart from others. Getting into this album I felt truly transported back in time to the late 90s, from the raw analog style production to the melodramatic and quirky singing that brings out that teenage angst we all still carry around. The guitars have a great feel to them. Simplistic yet still packs a bite with a noisy edge, there are some great harmonies that are formed on a few different tracks between the guitars and the violin creating this beautiful wall of sound that isn’t forceful or aggressive like certain noise rock bands tend to do.
The album is a whole, has a very somber and melodramatic atmosphere to it. Definitely taking more of that from Sebadoh. But that doesn’t mean that this album lacks energy. There’s still plenty of tracks that pick up the pace and start grooving like you’re trying to dance the sadness away. The album as a whole feels like a time capsule, capturing that raw ’90s post-punk experimental sound and certainly not letting that go. While it was certainly experimental back then, now this feels like par for the course for alt rock bands in the modern age. Well they do have their own distinct sound. I don’t really feel like they’re pushing any boundaries with this album. It’s safe, well made and has a lot of attitude and would have been a smashing hit back in the ’90s.
When comparing Blueprints to their previous albums. It’s quite clear that they wanted to do a more softer approach, leaving the noise behind and leaning more into a melodic and approachable sound that wouldn’t be as off putting to the average listener. There are some flares of noise with the guitars melding with he violin and bass and screeching out in angst, but I feel like there’s more of an emphasis on Saskia’s singing and a more somber and melodramatic sound that previous releases didn’t really quite lean into as much.
I found my self really enjoying this album and was pleasantly surprised when coming across this. It’s laid back and rather easy listening but still has a good noisy edge that I can’t ever get enough of. Would totally recommend giving this album a spin when given the chance.