As the leader of often-overlooked pink-pop masters Medicine and electro-shoegazers Electric Company, Brad Laner has not only influenced/tutored an entire generation of would-be auteurs on the role of noise-based pop music, but has proven an uncanny ability to forecast trends a decade or more in advance. On Neighbor Singing, the first 'official' solo outing of his career, Laner eschews Teutonic electronics and J&MC-esque walls of sound in favor of shimmering, reverb-laced bedroom pop confections that waft by on gossamer wings.
Influenced in large part by George Martin, Brian Wilson and modern pop savant Jon Brion, Neighbor Singing is filled with epics in miniature; as you listen to "Alambres" or "Lovely World" you can practically hear the booming timpani and full string and brass accompaniment the songs were so clearly destined for. At the other end of the fidelity spectrum, the warbling 4-track phasing of "Vecino" is alarmingly lovely, a positively Chilton-esque psych-dipped clarion call filled with glockenspiels, toy pianos and Laner's gentle cry, while the sparse "Arlie" is its gorgeous melodic counterpart, part stark confessionalism and part jubilant optimism. Almost more impressive still are "Sure" and "June Gloom", a pair of beautifully surreal gems that vacillate between acid-fried rave-ups and sun-splattered symphonic pop.
Those looking for the re-emergence of Laner circa The Buried Life will undoubtedly be disappointed by the relative sparsity of Neighbor Singing. Despite this, these are undoubtedly some of the strongest compositions of Laner's career, and really, were you to pile-on endless layers of distorted, bi-phased and flanged guitars (closer "Circumscribe" actually comes rather close), it could essentially be a new Medicine album. Though he's built his career and reputation on mind-altering excess, in this particular instance, less (Laner) really is more.