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Love Is All - Nine Times That Same Song

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Artist: Love Is All

Album: Nine Times That Same Song

Label: What's Your Rupture?

Review date: Apr. 6, 2006

Love Is All thrill by cacophony. You take it on faith that they have no particular interest in subtlety or serenity, that they would prefer to bludgeon you with an artily distorted account of what they're feeling, which most of the time (say nine out of ten, to be coy but accurate) is "excited." It's also helpful to remember that one can be excited in the sexual sense, and that Love Is All exude their fare share of "hornay," too. Nine Times That Same Song, the excited Swedes' debut, means to seize you and have its fun with you and demur when you try to talk about commitment. For these reasons, I do not want to like Love Is All.

It's not as easy as that, though. They resist the write-off with surprising dexterity, if not much evident grace. There's a musical soul to what they do, scrappy and undignified but undeniable, that keeps their sentiment afloat. The songs on Nine Times wear out their welcome first and prove themselves later; most of them stay grating for at least the first minute, but then most of them become wholly engaging by the end. They don't get refined, they get riotous, and the fact that this makes them better is a sign that there's something more smart and skillful here than Love Is All's garden-variety insouciance lets on.

All the standby signifiers of glitzy, insipid dance-punk are here in good measure, to be sure: the four-on-the-floor drum grooves and frenetic hi-hat, skronking saxophone and downstroked guitar, operatic yelping from some batty Swedish chick. They're reincarnated dirty, which helps – the sax bleeds, the treble clips, the doo-wop harmonies in "Spinning and Scratching" sound downright otherworldly – and weird, which redeems Josephine Olausson's screechy-coy delivery ("I keep / The one / I love / In the freezer!"), or at least tries to.

But the winning difference is the persistence that comes out, layers on and burrows in: the growing rumble that turns "Make Out Fall Out Make Up" into a triumphantly gritty Arcade Fire chorus, the simple saxophone lick in "Felt Tip" that abandons the Rapture vibe and channels the English Beat instead, or the simple escalating overdrive that makes art out of the otherwise awful "Used Goods." Even the album's two brooding numbers, "Turn The Radio Off" and closing track "Trying Too Hard," chug along with a certain legitimizing momentum. Conviction is the wrong word for it, just as earnest is the wrong word for Love Is All, but their real talent lies not far off: in recognizing the contrivance they're playing at and playing the shit out of it anyway.

By Daniel Levin Becker

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