88.1 WKNC’s Pick of the Week, written by Drew St. Claire a.k.a. DJ SWITCH
When I was just a newborn, my mom would sit in this old rocking chair and cradle me while she sang her favorite Beatles songs, instead of the traditional lullabies. I’m guessing my dad’s renditions of Led Zeppelin didn’t quite make for good bedtime music. So, while I was listening to The Love Language’s newest release, Libraries, I couldn’t help but see a similar scene playing out in my mind—some trendy Triangle couple crooning this local band’s latest release to their little bundle of joy. It’s just got that same kind of simple beauty to it.
A couple of years ago, the Love Language’s frontman, Stuart McLamb, was more likely to be found lying in a Raleigh back alley than rocking the big stage at the Hopscotch Music Festival. After a turbulent series of personal events, McLamb created a new band (The Love Language) and put out a self-titled album about his struggles. Libraries comes out just a year after that debut self-titled album and is a very solid follow-up. If the Love Language hasn’t proven themselves to be heavy hitters in Raleigh’s thriving indie rock scene yet, this album will certainly solidify them as such. The first track, “Pedals,” starts out with a quiet piano intro but then crashes into this rich melody with all sorts of layers to it. Those are going to be the keywords for Libraries: “rich” and “layers.” “A season for the both of us, a reason that rose off the coffin”—those are the first bold words from Stuart McLamb, the lead singer and guitarist. He has a bit of Morrissey (from the Smiths) in his voice, and it works well echoing out over the rich ebb and flow of the music. With those symphonic-like buildups and crashes from the instrumentation, I also got a pretty definite Arcade Fire vibe as well. That lovely riff running throughout “Pedals” sounds just like the outro from “Intervention,” but with a beautiful tragedy that is all its own. Another quick standout for me was certainly “Horrorphones.” This was The Love Language track WKNC included on the Hear Here compilation, which was reviewed by yours truly a few issues back. I still stand by what I said about this song back then—a melodic headtrip that’s equal parts I’m From Barcelona and the Beach Boys. Tracks like “This Blood Is Our Own” and “Anthophobia” give off an almost beach-vibe with their bending and sliding guitar solos. This underlying feeling became so pervasive to me that I checked out the band’s website and, sure enough, I see crashing waves and faded photos of wholesome girls in one piece bathing suits. Songs like these, and ones like “Blue Angel,” put me in what I think a 1950’s prom would have been like, but with a much more hip twist to it (and none of the embarrassment). The album closes out with “Wilmont,” which I assume is an allusion to the historic apartment building just down Hillsborough Street. Like the building it references, the song has plenty of heart and soul, made manifest by an acoustic intro and McLamb’s sincere lyrics, “I want you to be with me, ‘cause I’ve got a big heart to feed.” With songs like that, maybe it’s not too far-fetched for Libraries to become lasting lullaby material. Maybe one of those little babies will even grow up to write CD reviews of The Love Language’s next release.