State 51 Conspiracy – March 13th

“The act of dining alone is either awkward and embarrassing or honourable and enjoyable, depending on who you ask” notes Kamran Khan, aka Fake Laugh, in a press release for his latest full length effort, Dining Alone. That juxtaposition of vulnerability and defiance is perhaps emblematic of Fake Laugh as a project generally. From catchy-sad early singles ‘Short Of Breath’ all the way up to last year’s celebratory but self-deprecating ‘Honesty’, it’s Fake Laugh’s ability to blend light with dark that gives his music its sepia-like quality. On his sophomore album Dining Alone however this approach is taken to new, surreal depths as if a lonely walk had turned into a stroll through a hall of mirrors.

That stroll begins right from the start with the circusy but menacing album opener ‘Ever Imagine’ through to bashful bop ‘If You Don’t Wanna Know’. Pensive choruses are interwoven with playful synth lines and jagged rhythms that mark a distinct break from the eager riffs and scuzzy bedroom production of Fake Laugh’s eponymous debut. Fans looking for their fix of shimmering guitars and heartfelt hooks will find much to dig into through Dining Alone, but the jovial panic of ‘Alarm Bells’, the haunting glitches of ‘Dining Alone’ and the gangster majesty of ‘Empty Party’ shows an additional side to Fake Laugh that goes beyond the realms of lo-fi jangle pop.

Photo by Holly Whitaker.

Buy: Fake Laugh – Dining Alone

Live: Rough Trade East on March 19th and The Grace on May 27th