May 10, 2007
A lot of Murmur‘s distinct charm and singular beauty comes from the way Mitch Easter and Don Dixon were able to engineer the recordings so that even mundane elements such as snare hits and arpeggiated acoustic guitar figures could sound slightly, inexplicably alien. The surreal effect of “Laughing” is at least partially due to their subtle technical prowess. Their elaborate layers of guitar overdubs achieve their desired effect so gracefully that they are nearly imperceptible, and their stark mix highlights the negative space in the arrangement, which in turns emphasizes the song’s dreamy, ethereal quality.
In spite of some flashy rototom flourishes, Bill Berry’s percussion is typically clever and understated. The best bit comes when he shifts into a brisk disco beat on the abbreviated third chorus, bumping up the section’s sense of urgency without calling attention to the dynamic shift. Nearly every change in “Laughing” is like a subliminal suggestion, and the resulting effect feels a bit like traveling from one place to another without having a solid recollection of being in transit.