The Love Language – Self Titled [Album Review, SXSW 2009]

by Woody on February 19, 2009

Love Language Cover Art

The Love Language is an indie pop band from Raleigh, NC whose debut self titled release is the story of one man’s redemption, that of Stu McLamb who really comprised the entirety of the debut album.‚  McLamb wrote, performed, recorded and mixed the record, which is anticipated to be released in 2009 under the Bladen County Records label.‚  The all-encompassing nature of his effort and quality of the recording reminds one of that mad scientist Paul Westerberg and some of his solo efforts.

Let me begin by stating, and I mean this in a good way, this is a sloppily engineered lo-fi recording that had to be done on an old 4-track analog in McLamb’s basement.‚  But, this only enhances the personality of the album and gives the listener a truly intimate and deeply personal glimpse into a period of the musician’s life.‚  I for one, like being thrust into that position because, frankly the music is damn good.‚ ‚  It’s a little like looking at the artist’s sketchbook or the writer’s journal.

This album traverses a pretty wide expanse of musical territory although I get the sense that McLamb is a fan of late 50s and 60s pop with snippets of everything from old skiffle to early period Beatles to even The Velvet Underground.‚  The album’s opening track, “Two Rabbits,” is introduced by a saloonish piano that reminded me quite a bit of The Walkmen.‚  The next track, “Lalita,” lets you peer into McLamb’s personal history as it details his short relationship with a woman that seemed to end badly.‚  “I had moved in with a girl I thought was the love of my life but felt absolutely miserable,” reflects McLamb, adding “We had unhealthy tendencies like throwing beer bottles at the wall when we fought.”‚  The lyrics recite some of these bottle pitching episodes.

I have to admit, this was a pleasant surprise as the quality of the music, assuming you can look past the raw recording, is exceptional.‚  It’s diverse, melodic, mid tempo indie pop.‚  An example is “Sparxx” which begins with some heavy reverb and breaks into a chord progression and jangly guitar that could’ve come from Lou Reed back in the Factory days.‚  Although some of the lyrics are throw-aways (“little girls tell the biggest lies” as an example on the third track), you have to love the simple refrain of “just blow me away, I’m like a birthday candle.”

I urge you to give this band a listen. It will be interesting to watch the evolution of McLamb’s career as an artist as it’s very difficult to follow up on a deeply personal debut, but it’s hard to dismiss this man’s talent. He’ll also be running around Austin at SxSW and this album is out now on Bladen County Records.

MySpace | Bladen County Records

The Love Language – Lalita

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Woody February 19, 2009 at 9:44 am

I really love this disc. The recording techniques kind of remind me of Dr. Dog’s Easy Beat.

oz February 20, 2009 at 9:37 am

Lalita is just infectious.

Brutus March 1, 2009 at 12:33 am

“Little girls tell the biggest lies” is a throw-away????
Crazy talk.
You’ve clearly never been largely mislead by a little lovely.

Starkey March 1, 2009 at 11:05 am

Fair point Brutus. Hope you’ve had a chance to listen to the album…it’s a nice surprise.

Drinking Buddy March 2, 2009 at 7:29 pm

I almost let this album slip by. Amazing! Thanks for the recommendation. I can tell already this is going to be a mainstay for me this year.

Beardy March 30, 2009 at 11:02 pm

I’m loving this. It’s like spinning around under the sun in an open field. Thanks for sharing, fellas.

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