Throw a stone in Gothenburg and you're likely to hit a pretty decent rock and roll band. This Swedish city is challenging Brooklyn in new music quantity, but what about quality? Belle and Sebastian soundalikes The Electric Pop Group and orchestral pop purveyors, Sambassadeur released decent albums this year. These bands are still in imitative phases, displaying potential, but not yet able to carve out a musical territory to call their own. Old reliable classicists The Soundtrack of our Lives keep rolling and Little Dragon continue to captivate.
Love Is All have been mining the same angular, hook-driven pop punk since 2006's, Nine Times That Same Song
, and they've stuck to their guns on their third record, Two Thousand and Ten Injuries
. While there are still strong traces of Blondie, most clearly on the albums opener "Bigger, Bolder," they are now able to pull off incorporating more unlikely influences, like The Mamas and The Papas, on the insanely catchy "Kungen," with its "ba-ba-ba" chorus. But most importantly, they sound like a real band. There's a toughness here one would not normally associate with Swedish pop. Nicholas Sparding's guitars are an embarrassment of rock riff richness and the rhythm section of bassist Johan Lindwall and drummer Markus Gorsch is full of bounce and correctly played new wave energy. On top of all this sail the yelping, aggressively sexy and endearingly kooky vocals of Josephine Olausson. She's all heart, alternatively cooing and braying, passionate in her efforts to drive her points and the bands songs home. "I want someone to put under my spell," she sings seductively in "A Side In A Bed." But later in the song, she reveals "I want to be somebody's baby," almost yelling like a teenager throwing a tantrum.
Love Is All are wise to keep most of these twelve songs under the three minute mark. All fat is trimmed, leaving only the lean essentials. No excessive orchestrations, only the occasional synth or sax supplement where deemed necessary. They even manage to pull off their lone reggae influenced number, "False Pretense," usually a stylistic graveyard, but dragged across the finish line by Olausson's sheer goofy charisma.
The lyrics aren't fussed over and are simple and direct like the music. There is power in Olausson's economy. On "Less Than Thrilled," she runs into an old lover and his new flame and admits "I didn't expect you to be here/And now I don't know what to say/I'm less than thrilled you're OK." On the album's closer, the mournful two verse ballad, "Take Your Time" she conveys real heartbreak with the lines "Take your time/not mine/I've waited forever."
Though perhaps a bit fluffy for those who require near monastic intensity from their rock, Love Is All are a hard band not to like. Why bother to try? - dan siegler
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MP3: "Bigger, Bolder" (Two Thousand And Ten Injuries)
Love Is All on Myspace