The Loves - ...Love You

by Al Brown Rating:7 Release Date:2011-01-24

The Loves, for the first few songs of this posthumous release, remind me a bit of The Boo Radleys with their obvious love of 60s pop and r&b and their total lack of subtlety. Opener 'WTF?' is the kind of winking 60s pastiche that was barely acceptable in '96, and definitely is not now. I kind of dig the message of the song, which, quoth the press release, is "about coming to terms with the fact you'll never amount to anything" but it's all undermined by the schlockiness of the music.

'Bubblegum' is more 60s cabaret, really only notable for the fine lyric: "Shitting in your mouth/ And calling it a sundae". Honestly it sounds exactly like those ker-azy inter-scene bits in Austen Powers where he's dancing on podiums with 60s women, and no-one really needs that. 'O! My Gawd' is a real mess, again cribbing hard from the 60s, this time the kind of organ freakout that might play as Michael Caine enters a swingin' Soho nightspot, but with Tom Tom Club style rapping over the top. Then one of the drum loops from the intro to 'Blue Monday' by New Order comes in and some guy raps "Your girlfriend left the band/ And all you got was an STD" over it for some reason that I just can't fathom.

So far, so Mike Flowers Pops then - and you're wishing they would just give you some fucking indie-pop music and drop those ridiculous worn-out affectations. And thank God, they do just that. 'I Lost My Doll to Rock 'n' Roll' is a slow acoustic lament, bringing to mind The Lemonheads in their better moments. 'That Boy is Mine' is the kind of insta-classic pop tune that sticks in your head for days, like a lost gem from The Vaselines' golden years.

The next two songs are back to the old r&b/60s garage template, and re-affirm (to me, at least) that there really isn't any need for folks to plough up this kind of music anymore. A cover of Nathaniel Mayer's 'I Want Love and Affection (Not the House of Correction)' adds nothing to the original, and 'King Kong Blues' is the kind of dull, sludgy fare that a band with fire in their bellies like The Dirtbombs might just about make listenable, but a bunch of indie kids from Wales? Not in a bazillion years.

'December Boy' is back to what The Loves do best: pretty pop songs, this one reminiscent of The Pipettes in their original incarnation or Belle & Sebastian at their chamber-pop-ermost. 'The Very Stars Are Meant for Us' is similarly charming, with singer Simon Love desperately questioning his life and leaving a message on Jesus' answerphone (Jesus is voiced by Doug Yule of The Velvet Underground, fact fans).

There are times (and this is one of them) when I think that middle-class white folks should stick to making literate, confessional indie-pop or experimental electronica and just leave the other genres alone. And of course there are exceptions: The Rolling Stones, namechecked on this album, were the greatest blues-rock band ever; last year a friend introduced me to Chain and the Gang, a contemporary band that make confident, visceral garage rock, the type that I think these guys were aiming for. But really, 99 per cent of university educated dudes just can't pull that shit off: not something to be ashamed of, just a fact. I'm giving this a relatively high score because the good songs on here are really good; the rest just very unnecessary.

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