REVIEW : Laurence Guy – Saw You For The First Time [Church]

Summer releases are routinely focused on the peak time, and with parties and festivals going on as far as one can scroll, it usually makes perfect sense. But part of the season is about embracing slow moments, finding solace in the Soleil. This is what makes Laurence Guy’s debut LP on Church, “Saw You For The First Time” such a refreshing listen. It’s a fully realized album that manages to make a lasting impression in a sea of singles.

From the onset, the beat-less introduction makes it clear that you are being asked to take a step outside the party. This won’t be the last soft moment on the album and, as energy levels cycle up and down, it’s worth noting we rarely move through more than a couple of tracks without some kind of drum-free interlude or break. Whether in the form of the hypnotic ‘Claudi’ or the soft anticipation at the beginning of ‘Stray.’, the tracks are carefully selected to maintain a consistently hazy mood. That’s not to say things don’t pick up pace. Standouts such as the dreamy ‘Wichita Falls‘ and the sensual title track, are strong choices for a moody opening set, or impromptu after party and although everything here makes for a satisfying home listen, there’s plenty of low-end in the more upbeat cuts that would do well on a bona fide system.

The album offers a push and pull that present day releases frequently shy away from. It takes confidence to put out music that beckons to be experienced and reflected on — as opposed to enjoyed solely during a night out. This ebb and flow makes for engaging repeat listens that, depending on the listener’s mood, often bring about new favourites. The effortless, smooth quality found in Guy’s productions serves as the glue for whatever ideas are being played with. These same ideas are regularly brought to their capacity, often through sheer repetition, but interest is always maintained while upholding the soothing simplicity that ties the album together.

Other standouts include ‘Gone (feat. The Contours)‘ with its catchy, high resonance lead and ‘Orchard Road‘, the strongest ambient piece on the album. Our singular gripe with the album (if you can really call it that, as the track is still exceptional) is ‘W.L.Y.B.‘. It feels more like a bonus track than a finale and, in our humble opinion, ‘Orchard Road‘ functions as the true closing piece. Perhaps this is because ‘W.L.Y.B.‘ was previously released as part of Laurence’s Kojak EP in 2015 or maybe it just doesn’t match the the rest of the record. Trivial critiques aside, “Saw You for the First Time” is essential listening and as proper debuts go, they don’t come much better than this.

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Adam Johan