It was something of a coincidence that this CD landed in my box at Radio ARA (Luxembourg). It wasn't addressed to me, and it was still plastic wrapped, so somebody must have thought that this would be my line of work. I liked the cover artwork, the packaging, and was instantly curious to listen to The Reds®, a two-piece from Philadelphia. My first impression was that they are a talented young band that plays this fashionable retro post-punk sound, so imagine my surprise when I looked them up on the internet and learned that they have been around for thirty years already, even releasing albums on major labels from the late Seventies to the Mid-Eighties. I am excused because my musical awareness only started in the late Eighties.
This historical context changed my opinion, and although I am not familiar with the bands past, what they do on their new album, Fugitives From The Laughing House is impressive, to say the least. Their music is centered around Rick Shaffer's haunting, distorted guitar, and Bruce Cohen's chilly keyboard sounds. Shaffer is also one hell of a singer, whose voice conveys a sense of despair and anguish.
Unlike many new bands who copy something they grew up with, The Reds® rather seem to have helped develop the movement without having garnered the deserved recognition. At times they sound like the Rolling Stones, then again there are glimpses of Lou Reed, and quite often proto punk elements reminding me of the Stooges. A certain Suicide bleakness cannot be denied either, and towards the end, the band even plays with dub elements, and it works.
Fugitives From The Laughing House is a great album that is superior to those released by younger bands who only follow a fashion. The Reds® are sincere about what they do; this much is obvious when you listen to their one hour of dark garage proto-punk rock. They are not young enough and don't sport expensive haircuts, so they will never sell as many albums as younger hyped bands, but if you are looking for real quality music, this is certainly a place to start.