SHARK TOYS: LABYRINTHS
In The Red
These albums that are reviewed here … really they’re documents of a time and place, of our lives as reader, listener and/or producer. The architects of these records have a symbiotic relationship with the audience that in and of itself creates meaning. Listening to Labyrinths, the third installment from L.A.’s Shark Toys, this connection results in a total transportation into the world of Daniel Clodfelter and company (Bill Gray, bass, and Emanuel Farias, drums). [Farias and Clodfelter are sometime L.A. RECORD contributors—ed.] Listening to this album in a world gone mad is a cathartic experience: you aren’t an island unto yourself, and there are others who know your experience. And isn’t that was art truly sets out to do? Labyrinths’ songs suggest unfinished thoughts, reflecting a frantic, discordant interior life. Addressing the directionless notions of the urban setting (“Let’s Follow (City Lights)”), the constrictions of creation (“Jazz Suss”) or the collapse of being (“Start Over Again”), Shark Toys are the humanists in Los Angeles’ punk movement. “In Between,” the final song on side one, is an examination of the unpredictable nature of the self, represented in the muddled, fluttering guitar. There is an tension here that extends beyond the borders of the album, blowing past the confines of sounds and communicating like an abstract expressionist painting. This is and isn’t slap-dash music; it’s a frenzied attempt at escape: escaping oneself, one’s surroundings, and one’s state—metaphorical and otherwise! There is a sensitivity to this album, an expression of hope from within the littered mess of life. The balance of aggression and vulnerability is a tightrope to walk when making music of this caliber, but Shark Toys does it simply and beautifully. Shark Toys invites you into their world—a world of confusion, torment and the desire to create nonetheless.
SHARK TOYS’ RECORD RELEASE WITH FLATWORMS, THEE MVPS AND CAT SCAN ON SAT., MAR. 10, AT ALL STAR LANES, 4459 EAGLE ROCK BLVD., EAGLE ROCK. 8 PM / $7 / ALL AGES. SHARK TOYS’ LABYRINTHS IS AVAILABLE NOW FROM IN THE RED.