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The Love Language @ The Echo, 2/24/11

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Love is hard. So is creating anything original that touches upon a subject Shakespeare, Beethoven and Elliott Smith all emptied their hearts for. But people keep trying to successfully send up life’s most vexing problem, and to varying degrees of success and originality.

Enter The Love Language, and the triumph of lo-fi, power-pop, blues inspired punk rock that reaches for the stars and often graces the heavens. Their raw mix of ingredients, their rock & roll melange, was on proud display Thursday as the North Carolina natives raced through a 45-minute set. It was as much a showcase of their zealous devotion to the language of love as it was a genuinely joyous, balls to the wall performances heralding their message.

But, for as much as The Love Language may borrow from this era or that, their paradox is that their music would have fit perfectly into a bygone era of simpler times.

The Love Language - Heart to Tell, from their stellar 2010 album Libraries.

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You can hear echoes of their sound from the 2005 Sub Pop wave of The bands, like the Fruit Bats, The Shins, The Rosebuds (who, incidentally, are on the same label and from the same state), etc., which is not to say their songs are tied with a bow and packaged as wholly complete sets of indie-yearning. In fact, The Love Language have aptly raced past the mid-aughts toward a new decade in which the definition of Indie Rock is changing as fast as you can spell L-C-D. Their music could grace a Nina Simone cover record, a John Lee Hooker tribute show or an Iggy Pop benefit.

As divergent as their sources may be, The Love Language also manages to infuse their own, unique brand of originality that, while familiar, is brightly creative and altogether exciting, if somewhat messy. Which is OK, especially as The Love Language continues to document their past and present by any means necessary.

“To me, Lo-Fi is almost an anti-aesthetic,” lead singer Stuart McClamb once said in an interview, “where you’re more interested in capturing the energy than spending your own energy on figuring out tones. It’s more about ‘Let’s capture the moment.’

In fact, their discordant musical sensibilities, which was on vibrant display at The Echo Thursday night, may be one of their most endearing traits. To see The Love Language is to witness what can be a messy gaggle of musicians playing their heart out, particularly on some of their more amazing selections, like Providence, Lalita and Nocturne.

And Manteo, which is what this reviewer believes to be their strongest song. The album version of this three minute paean to love clocks in at just over three minutes, beginning with modest strumming that gives way a minute later to The Love Language at their best.

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Thursday night, Manteo started even more abashedly, with lead singer Stuart McLamb kicking off the track with no help from his guitar or any one elses instrument. It ambled to a start, quickly unfolding with great force and lovely power, hearkening back to your favorite summer.

In fact, McLamb’s lyrics are so raw, the music so genuine that it’s easy to be swept up in their longing. On Nocturne, they sang: “Night delivers cold shivers/I've been waiting on a heart that quivers for/You, Kathleen, you're golden/You're just waiting for the stars unfolding for you.”

He’s singing for you. For your girlfriend. For music.

Or not.

“Those songs were never intended to be for anyone except my ex-girlfriend,” McLamb once said in an interview. “That was my outlet, and at one point, it caught fire.”

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As long as they continue to genuflect pure, subtly powerful love ballads of bluesy punk, lo-fi rock, their flame will continue to burn bright.


  1. Blue Angel
  2. Lalita
  3. Providence
  4. Love to Tell
  5. Nocturne
  6. Manteo
  7. Horophones
  8. new song
  9. Sparxxx
  10. Two Rabbits
  11. This Room
  12. This Blood Is Our Own
  13. Brittany's Back