A year after forming, Glaswegian quintet The LaFontaines landed themselves a spot performing at the T in the Park festival in 2011, becoming semi-regulars over the subsequent years. Since then the group has worked assiduously to build a following for their blend of rock and hip-hop, earning a reputation as excellent live performers. With their second album, Common Problem, the LaFontaines are evidently of the opinion that you don’t fix what ain’t broke as they offer up more of what made their 2015 début album, Class, a stonking success.
While the words rap and rock when used together bring to mind groups like Rage Against the Machine and, for better or worse, Limp Bizkit, the LaFontaines have crafted for themselves a signature sound that stands apart from the aforementioned bands, a sound that Common Problem immediately impresses upon the listener with the high energy of Explosion. If you are not on-board, or at least intrigued, by the end of Explosion’s three-and-a-half-minutes, then you may as well head home already. Too Late charts issues of self-doubt while the synth-rock music churns and builds, cresting with the guitars on the track’s bridge, while the titular Common Problem features an indie sound.
The guitars of Armour take on an almost desert-rock sound reminiscent of Queens of the Stone Age with their fuzz and groove, and a chopped vocal sample underneath the verses cements the track as a must listen. A staple of the LaFontaines music is Kerr Okan’s rapped verses and bassist John Gerard’s sung choruses, but the pair switch places on Total Control and change to sung verses and a rapped chorus keep things fresh. Closing number Asleep is an electro-heavy affair featuring a strong beat, with the track building an explosive energy which is released at the half-way point before resolving to end Common Problem on a strong note.