There’s something special about collaborative albums, especially when the contributing parties are artistically compatible as Fake Laugh and Tarquin. Meeting in the humble halls of their Sussex sixth form college, the two went on to form a loose friendship that years later would lead to the fruition of a vibrant self-titled alt pop album; Fake Laugh & Tarquin. London called, and the two found themselves there, deep in the midst of their own respective successful musical ventures. With Fake Laugh sinking his teeth into a glorious muddle of the alternative, rock and indie scenes; Tarquin hit his stride in the ever-innovative world of grime. A few chance meetings in pubs and on dancefloors kept the boys in touch, but it was 2019’s summer that saw the first synergetic effort come to life. ‘Slow’ is both the opening track of the album, and a rework of an acoustic that Fake Laugh had created two years prior. Hoping that his friend Tarquin could give it a new lease of life, the new cooperative effort was instantly fruitful.
From the intro, it’s hard to resist gently moving to ‘Slow’. A calculated mellow vocal performance navigates flashy, fun layers of synth and harmony. Bright and youthful in its execution, what easily could be deemed chaotic is calmed by an obvious ear for minimalism in the right places. Where ‘Ice’ is appropriately cool and weird with jolty tones filling the low end, ‘Money’ projects the woes of early-pandemic financial worry into a colourful and glossy dance track.
‘Only Fear’ lures us in with a dramatic startle, which gives way to more creative contrasting of the tender vocal and persistent percussion. Thrusted into the slow, atmospheric soundscape that is ‘We Ride’, delicately articulated melancholy sits atop the signature synths. ‘So Good’ is now to be declared a feel-good summer staple which lays down some gentle groove as the end of the album looms.
Resting on ‘Meaningless Things’, Fake Laugh & Tarquin closes with grace in its piano-centric melodies. Quaint and contemplative, the intrigue encouraged earlier in the album is unresolved, but regardless it’s been a thoroughly satisfying listen. Put simply, this sense of intrigue continuing onto whatever project they share with us next, will always leave us wanting more.
Clocking out just shy of the half-hour mark, this album is an alt-pop whirlwind with substance — a short but just-long-enough display of elegant artistry.