The Love Language
By Jim Simpson
Following his storage-space recorded lo-fi self-titled debut, The Love Language’s Stuart McLamb opens Libraries (on the indie darling Merge Records label) with a forlorn synth-train whistle that swells into glo-fi high drama on “Pedals,” as if Morrissey had just introduced his talented and less maudlin nephew.
“Brittany’s Back” features the resurgent and ubiquitously popular Spector-esque wall of sound as well as an infusion of industrial hammer-beats wrenched straight from Iggy Pop’s youth (“Listen to the pines/Now I’m wondering why its thundering/With the sky as clear as your eyes”), while “Horophones” bangs and devolves into a tripped-out descent into plausible and valid — if not totally creepy — propositions: “If all good children go to heaven, then all good children die.” Through swirling guitars and layer upon layer of colossal strings and wreckless drums, a distinctly bittersweet irony exists somewhere on a long-ago summer lawn beneath the fresh threat of autumn leaves. “Summer Dust” and “Blue Angel” could be Brian Wilson on heroin, while “Heart To Tell” is a bouncy folk-rocker with percussion and handclaps reminiscent of high school gym pep rallies, and an ending so ruthlessly cold that it could make a newbie college radio DJ crap his or her pants or spew overpriced coffee across the board for fear of dead air.
It is exactly McLamb’s anachronistic pop influences and dizzying layers that turn Libraries into a Proustian carousel with marzipan horses, sweet sounding but not overly so that you’d toss your tea and madeline cake. It’s an exhilarating melodic ride. Especially interesting is “Wilmont,” which begins as a lo-fi demo and slowly builds into something more lush, magnifying his attempt to maintain his earlier sound while making something new.
Libraries has a peculiar and delightfully dark summertime feel, not of summers spent frolicking on a beach but rather of melancholy waltzes at cotillion dances, swift and sad romances that end too soon or never take flight. “Days in love/Please don’t ever leave your love/Behind or in front of/These days in love/And we could be anyone we want to be/So what’s the point in being free these days, my love?” Great soundtrack for a sublime afternoon drive into the dying sunlight.
The Love Language play The EARL, September 3.