Laughed the Boy is almost a one-man act. Chris Panacci wrote the music and handled the vocal work, guitar, and bass, while brother Sean played drums on a few tracks. But the sound is polished and ten tracks tight in the band’s latest album Here is Fine, released in February 2017, thanks to the presence of veteran producer and engineer Josh Korody. Toronto’s Panacci brothers and Korody infused the album with the sounds of the 1990s and revisit the guitar powered rock styles of that decade.
Most of the songs on Here is Fine start with a strong guitar opening, which sometimes break into a chord progression, sometimes a power riff, and sometimes a melody. Every track proves Chris Panacci knows the past 25 years of “indie” or “alt” music and can craft a song that easily fits into any niche of the genres. On this album, he rolls the dice further by changing between many within a single song.
For example, when the guitar riff takes over from the percussion on “Bell Rock” (one of the few tracks to start with the drums), it quickly transforms from noise rock into ‘90s grunge. Yet the song remains tight, and the slips between genres are seamless.
“Ice Cream” demonstrates this same ability to mix styles without distracting the listener from the song’s rhythms. When Chris Panacci sings “I don’t even know the way,” it’s clear he’s not talking speaking musically, as he certainly knows the way to write songs from start to finish.
Every track proves Chris Panacci knows the past 25 years of “indie” or “alt” music and can craft a song that easily fits into any niche of the genres
“Trip Down the Gold Mine” lets the bass serve as the foundation of the track’s rhythms, and again, it pays off, as the varied sounds build into a workhorse of a melody. Layers of guitar and effects, like fuzz, and distortion on top of his ear-catching riffs. Panacci is a talented guitarist, and his playing is by far the most interesting element on Here is Fine.
However, his skill may be the cause of the few songs that don’t quite make it. In “I Sold Out For This,” Panacci and Korody let the guitar playing overpower the song writing. This lack of balance between technique, craft, melody, and songwriting pops up in several spots on the album. At times, Here is Fine sounds like good studio work between a talented producer and musician having so much fun they forgot about the audience.
“Acutane,” my favorite track, shows the heights that Laughed the Boy can reach when risk and reward combine. It doesn’t sound like any other on the album and is the only one on the record to put the vocals first. When Panacci muses “took my shot when I should have played it safe,” he may be reminiscing about a lost love, but it could just as easily describe the band's work on Here is Fine. The feedback heavy close of “Acutane” is a pitch perfect ending for Here is Fine and left me wanting to know where the band will go next.
7,007 out of 10,000 Rawckus Kung Fu Throwing Stars