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Music Review

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The Last Laugh


Artist: Joker's Daughter
Double Six
RRP: £13.99
Available 15 June 2009

Joker’s Daughter… Danger Mouse… The Last Laugh? No, this is not the new Batman film but a debut album from Joker’s Daughter entitled The Last Laugh which features the renowned artist and producer Danger Mouse, who collaborates with vocalist, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Helena Costas.

Born in London but Greek Cypriot by origin, Costas began studying the violin from 7 years old and went on to teach herself guitar and keyboards. Knowing what she wanted from an early age she learnt the art of production, and grew more and more confident through playing gigs in London.

In 2003 Costas began sending her home recordings to Danger Mouse and this continued as his career grew. After realising how similar their passion for music was they launched a collaboration, which they called Joker’s Daughter, which is named after one of Costa’s many personae.

The Last Laugh is a folk filled whimsical journey; nothing is too weird or out-there for this album. There are light and airy songs, deep and dark songs and then there are just plain weird songs. Just from looking at some of the titles of the tracks, such as ‘Under The Influence Of Jaffa Cakes’, ‘Jelly Belly’ and ‘Yellow Teapot’ you can tell you are in for an interesting listen.

This album opens with ‘Worm’s Head’; it has good strings, vocals and electronics. It has a real homely feel to this track and it begins to build you up for the rest of the album. All in all this is a good opener to the album.

‘Jessie The Goat’ opens with Costas’s dream like vocals; this is a soothing chilled out track and I really like the electronica and strings mixed together, it gives it a sophisticated sound.

The intro for ‘Go Walking’ is a superb mix of strings and Costas's angelic vocals. While the vocals are soft we really see where Costas's talents lie, not only in her vocals but also her ability to write heart felt songs.

‘Lucid’ is a more up beat track which has a fun energy surrounding it. A feel of urgency is brought to this track with the mix of electronica, strings and backing vocals.

I absolutely love the bluesy feel to ‘JD Folk Blues’, it has a coolness about it that makes you want to climb into this track and jam with band. It’s just a shame it’s so short at 1 min, 35 secs.

‘The Last Laugh’ has a dark menacing sound to it, the deep electronic sound feel like waves crashing over your head which when mixed with the ‘woah’ of the backing vocals give this track an eerie sound which at 1 min, 27 secs changes to a lighter feel only to return to its menacing ways. Again this is a very short track.

As you might have guessed ‘Under the Influence Of Jaffa Cakes’ has a playful sound with off keynotes and a good strong drum led percussion. This track is very uplifting and the horns just add that bit of comedy to the track. Finishing at just over 2 minutes long, I am beginning to see a theme here!

‘Jelly Belly’ again is a lighter playful track. Unfortunately Costas's vocals are a little annoying and sound too childish for my liking. This time I welcomed the abrupt ending at 2 minutes.

‘Cake and July’ although very quirky with the lyrics: ‘…Where did July go? Is it under my pillow?…’ ‘…Where did the cake go? Did it go with July?…’ is a very beautiful sounding track. The strings in this track are very powerful alongside Costas's vocals, which are now, back on form.

The sound of an eerie circus style song can be found in ‘Chasing Ticking Crocodile’. The vocals are ghost like and the electronics mixed with the keyboard are quite dark. The flute adds an extra creepy feel to this track and it’s like a horror movie where I don’t want to look but I can’t not!

‘Nothing Is Ever What It Seems’ is a very emotional song. Costas has really put her heart and soul into this track. I love the slow style of this track and the strings, which add to the deep emotion.

‘Running Goblin’ is a fast paced, sense of urgency and weird, eerie sounding track. It’s one of those songs you love to hate. Just as you are getting used to the pace it slows and Costas's vocals sing out sweetly and calmly with the whispery backing vocals and the hum of the horns.

A playful bouncy beat is played in ‘The Bull Bites Back’. It’s a fun track and I love the story telling lyrics.

‘Yellow Teapot’ is quite chilled and catchy, unfortunately I get strange looks when I’m caught singing some of the lyrics: ‘…I’m still waiting for my yellow teapot and my flying carpet and the little people living with the old lady in her giant shoe, yes the old lady in her giant shoe…’

The music from Joker’s Daughter is definitely strange, quirky and from an uncharted world but it has a homely feel about it and a hate to love it feel. Together Costas and Danger Mouse have come up with a mutual agreement on their ‘quirkiness’ of music, which works well on most tracks.

I do feel a little sold short though as a lot of the tracks on this album are short and end very abruptly but then having said that if they went on much longer I think the listener would switch off and go into a daydream of their own.


Helena Rea

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