Single review – The Swinging Laurels, Falling

Reviewed by Phil Taylor (see his Music Observer blog here)

Release date: 10/05/24

Four decades ago, pioneering Leicester sax and synth pop band, The Swinging Laurels, signed a record deal with WEA Records. Numerous singles followed over the 10-year life of the band; they won Boy George as a fan, collaborated with bands including The Fun Boy Three, played in support of The Clash, and appeared on TV and radio countless times.

But they never released an album.

On 10th May 2024, that all changed. Over the past few years, John Barrow and Gaz Birtles, who founded the band in 1979 and who have both continued separate, successful music careers with involvement in bands such as The Beautiful South, Yellowbelly and the Fun Lovin’ Criminals, have worked to collate and curate The Swinging Laurels’ back catalogue. The result is Return to the Future. For good measure, they’ve created an album package which boasts 17 tracks in total, including all of their previous singles.

Falling is track number 8 on the album. It’s a tune which, if you’ve never heard the band before, is the perfect introduction to their sound and ethos. For fans, it will of course be a welcome and familiar treat. It opens with warm, wavy synths which spiral upwards, before the classically-80s vocals kick in to pull us back down to Earth, briefly.

“Falling … head over heels in love” is the rich refrain we’re introduced to here, and this will return again and again. It’s all very upbeat and joyful, with a kind of inner radiance – a sense of internal sunshine.

The song later enters a slightly different phase during the verse, but it’s a short phase, with more strident vocals (very redolent of the B52s) which seem to serve the purpose of pointing us back to that main motif: “Falling…”

It’s taken two minutes, but here comes that ubiquitous sax, pushing in to lead us on a winding instrumental road for a while. The sax paves the way and accompanies keyboard riffs and elevated drums, and then – yes, that vocal theme again. The point is well and truly driven home: we’re in the heady throes of love and that is that.

This song is a neat package of synth-led song writing, of unbridled happiness and colour, which heralds the return of The Swinging Laurels in all their glory.

The Swinging Laurels’ album package was released by Leicester independent label, Scatola Rosa.

Order your 12″ colour Vinyl album and 17 track CD which includes all the album tracks plus six previous singles – available from  Rough Trade

Click here for The Swinging Laurels’ web site