Laurie Shaw: Helvetica review – A glitchy, scrappy pop-punk state of Britain

Fri, Nov 1, 2019, 05:00



L.J. Shaw



Kerry-based and Wirral, Liverpool-born Laurie Shaw is easily one of the most prolific songwriters around – many albums have been self-released in the past 10 years, and the ones we have heard brim over as much with clever ideas as easily spotted influences.

This said, there is always much to get your teeth into, and Helvetica – the title of which Shaw insightfully applies to the homogenisation of cultures and societies – is no different.

Leaning towards a collection of classic British songwriters, from Ray Davies and Richard Hawley to Alex Turner, Jarvis Cocker and Damon Albarn, as well as many intersectional creative points, Shaw tackles what he terms “nostalgia as a propaganda tool”.

Part state of the nation address and simply a thumb-sucking ponder on current happenings in Britain, the songs are coated in glitchy pop, scrappy punk, and Radiohead-like ambiguities. By turns sweet (New Hesket Market, Drawn & Quartered) and dissonant (Call the Council, Had to Swerve), the backbone of the album is formed more by the lyrics than the music. Here, Shaw is excellent, very much his own person, and so decidedly non-Helvetica, it’s a pleasure.