A fascinating debut that more than hints at an exciting career ahead
Adam England
11:29 15th July 2022

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Going for a 13-track, hour-long double LP as your debut album is brave. But three years and sixty demos after signing with Ghostly International, that’s just what Launder – or John Cudlip – has done.

The Los Angeles-based artist cut his teeth listening to dream-pop, and there are heavy dream-pop and shoegaze influences throughout the album. Cudlip described the early demo of opener ‘Unwound’ as being arena rock, and while the final product might not be as such it’s got that anthemic potential, and here he sticks to the tried-and-tested rock formula of quiet verses and loud choruses. While it might be something we’ve seen many times before, it’s easy to screw it up – and that’s something that Cudlip doesn’t do. 

‘Intake’ has more of a British alternative feel, melding Joy Division-esque post-punk with the more anthemic indie of the Courteeners, while ‘Blue Collar’ is post-Britpop-meets-grunge. On ‘Become’, Cudlip brings in his friend and French singer Soko; her vocals make a pleasant change and are the perfect fit for Cudlip’s hazy style. 

The first half of the album is the stronger, taking the listener on a real journey through the alternative rock of the past thirty or thirty-five years. The second isn’t quite as gripping, particularly where the longer tracks are concerned; that said, ‘Harbour Mouth’ and ‘Chipper’ are an impressive pair – the former’s catchy chorus is one of the album’s highlights, while the latter is a bright yet wistful love song that keeps things short and sweet at just a couple of minutes in length. 

Final track ‘Lantern’ moves from what sounds like a lo-fi take on ‘Dear Prudence’ – more specifically, the Siouxsie and the Banshees cover – into a fuzzy, atmospheric eight-minute epic. Whereas some of the longer tracks here do feel as though they might overstay their welcome ever-so-slightly, there’s no such issue on the album’s closer. It’s a captivating listen.

An ambitious debut from Culdip, it’s one that – for the most part – works. While it might feel as if it stretches on slightly at times, Happening is a fascinating debut that more than hints at an exciting career ahead.

Happening is out now.

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Photo: Press