Album Review of Love Love: Love Love
Music journalists love when bands self-title their first albums, mostly because we like to use the word “eponymous.” But I’ll resist because there’s so much more to write about Love Love than its album title choice. Hip, hillbilly-in-a-coalmine Americana. But with a dark side. And a tendency to wail in such a way that you’re both energized and haunted at the same time. And a proclivity toward throwing in some psychedelic, mellow guitar rock just when you think you have the band’s style figured out.
But let’s start with the dark side. This Boston band sure does. I had never even heard of murderpedia until I found myself singing along to this oh-so-catchy, truly demented opening number, “Murderpedia.” Indeed, it sounds as if Chris Toppin and Jefferson Davis Riordan, who, along with bass player Darren Ray, form the core of Love Love, sought out some of the more gruesome entries and wove them into a song. I guarantee you’ll sing along to this catchy, guitar hook-driven knee-slapper… and that you’ll be simultaneously amused and horrified at yourself for doing so. (To be honest, you’ll mostly be singing along with “devil back to hell”; not so horrifying.) Yes, this song is on my phone playlist.
My other favorite Love Love song on this disc is a gravelly-vocalled, psychedelic Americana-folk anthem of unique pride, “I Like You Weird.” This could be a major hit, a movie theme song, the band’s entrée to pop music consciousness. At a minimum, it’s going to be one of your favorite songs on Love Love’s eponymous debut album. (OK, it turns out I couldn’t resist.)
Elsewhere on the album, which totals 14 songs, you’ll have your own favorites, but there are a few I’m particularly drawn to. “Hey Fella”, for example, is a slow-paced, engaging, heavy roots rock behemoth. And “Big Backyard Moon” is a harmonizing, guitar picking, energetic, hillbilly-esque ditty.
“Bailing” extends the Opry-like flavor all the way to Hee Haw territory; lyrically modern with a hint of rock guitar where you’d perhaps expect banjo on a truly old-school country song, but it frequently sports a classic country harmony. Structurally, if you appreciate a well-crafted song, this is a work of art. And it’s followed by singer-songwriter-esque melodic alt-rock “Maryland,” just to keep listeners on their toes.
“Wide Open Skies” is a medium-tempo, ’60s/’70s-flavored travelling song that just screams “Roll the windows down!” to which you will certainly reply, if you live here in New England, “No, not in the winter,” but you’ll still want to.
In the end, Love Love is a style of roots rock/Americana all its own. A pure old sound with a new bent and a propensity to throw in styles you didn’t expect, sometimes in large quantities so they take over a particular song, while always maintaining an underlying Love Love sound. A perfect example comes late in the album. “Love Myself” is one of those “do I have the turntable on the right speed?” mellow, psychedelic tunes that feels as if you’re drifting through the clouds in a black lit room full of lava lamps. It’s followed by “Lost Battle,” a fun, pickin’-and-grinnin’ knee-slapper. And the album ends to the tune of a capella, creaky hillbilly harmony on “Bright Morning Stars.”
Love Love is a unique entity. Boston-based, bizarre Americana.