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BOTW Review: LAW – Haters & Gangsters

Lauren Holt’s debut EP as LAW, Haters & Gangsters, doesn’t end with a bang. Rather, the seven-track suite’s closer ‘OG’ culminates in an extended coo, a final breath drawn from the Edinburgh songwriter. It’s a telling sign. Over the course of Haters & Gangsters’ 22-minute runtime, Holt rarely fails to capture the innate beauty in the moment, living in the now with all its imperfections but also its sense of honesty. By the time we reach ‘OG’, every last ounce of energy has been expended; there’s nothing left to say or shout, just a final sigh to announce its conclusion.

As the fiery young vocalist puts it on the EP’s opening salvo and lead single, ‘Haters’: “One puff is all that you’ll get.” It could almost be a credo for Haters & Gangsters as a whole; that little burst of a mysterious feeling that dissipates as quickly as it appears. Fortunately though, in its seven captured instances of deconstructionist pop, soul and hip-hop, we’re left with a lasting artefact; one that’s well worth treasuring.

Whether it’s in the lurching autoharps of midway point ‘Coins For You’ – recorded in Holt’s own living room – which unsettles as much as it enamours, or the boisterous breakdowns of “Play it down, yo/Break it down slow” on ‘Scrambled’ that feel as though they could collapse at a moment’s notice, there’s a fragility to Haters & Gangsters that never fails to capture the imagination.

By the time that final ghost has been exorcised on ‘OG’, escaping in the quietest of manners, you’ll want to loop back round and start again. For in every rustling beat and well-placed sample, lies a wealth for discovery, blemishes and all. Holt may let slip on ‘ComicStrips’ that all she gives us is “merely smoke”, but on the strength of Haters & Gangsters, she can offer something much more tangible indeed.

- Alex Cull

Haters & Gangsters is available for free download, via Soundcloud, here.

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