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The Laces

Forever For Now

Mighty Feeble Records

Take a song like "Carli" off this completely unintimidating,  DIY emo-core album by Iowa City genius Doug Kabourek. Yes, the sound quality is muddy and the signal is weak, but listen closely and what emerges from the muck just happens to be a shiny little pop diamond. Sentimental, you bet: "Hey there, Carli/I'd like to say that I believe/That when we die we get a life/Where audio replaces sight/And rock shows happen every night." Delivered with all the unconventional power of the kittens on the album jacket. Emo-core? How 'bout cuddle-core? Just check out the song titles: "Lament of the Lonely Pet," "Reality for Nice Guys Everywhere," the stunningly understated "Summer Song (all I need is you)" and the soothing-sweet "It's Bedtime Where She Is Now."

His sound is somewhere between the good Ben Lee folk-pop and a laidback-new wave Beck delivered by one of the Sifl & Ollie sock puppets. Kabourek may in fact be Iowa's Beck, but he doesn't take the the same chances. Maybe because he's too busy embroidering his heart on his sleeve. On "Lament…" Kabourek breaks it down simply by repeating over and over, "I miss you so much" in his sweetie-boy voice, on a track that highlights a fuzz guitar over acoustic and bells. When he tries to rock, like on "The King Suite 298," Kabourek is merely pumping up a grave folk-pop, that again, will remind you of Ben Lee's first solo outing.

Funny thing... under the homemade boom-box production, lie gems in the rough. Imagine what they'd sound like if they were recorded in a studio instead of a bedroom. Where Omaha's emo-boy Bright Eyes adds angst and ugliness to the mix, Kabourek keeps it on an open-chord, unobstructed freshness. Methinks that if the emo kids huddled in dark web-circles on the Internet ever discover this little gem, they'll have another sweater-wearing hero to hoist on their slouched shoulders.

You won't find the CD in your local indie store. Order direct from The Laces at their website.

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Published in The Reader, July 15, 1999. Copyright 1999 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Rating: Yes