Critical Voices: Love Is All, “A Hundred Things Keep Me Up At Night”

November 13, 2008

Love Is All’s 2005 debut, 9 Times That Same Song, was an overflowingly peppy take on post-punk, complete with harmonies, horns, and exuberant songs. But as pop-oriented as it was, most of its appeal was in how that pop was dressed-in compressed production with such an emphasis on the treble that it sometimes threatened to tear speakers apart.

The good news is that Love Is All’s follow-up, A Hundred Things Keep Me Up At Night, mostly retains that sound, though there is considerably more space in its mix. The bad news is that while it retains some of the band’s high points, it’s missing the same sense of hyperkinetic energy that made the debut so compelling. But though the group feels tighter and seasoned in a way that most bands strive for, it’s a maturation that can actually work against their strengths.

Fortunately, what they have to offer is still interesting. Josephine Olausson’s vocals still sound like a fourteen-year-old on speed.  Love is All’s trademark jumpy dance numbers-“Give it Back” and “Rumours”-are still insanely catchy. So are the ballads, which slow the tempo in a way Love Is All hasn’t before. “When Giants Fall” and “A More Uncertain Future” both tear at the heartstrings with beautiful harmonies and soul-influenced basslines, and they’re a welcome addition to the band’s repertoire.

A Hundred Things Keep Me Up At Night takes its name from a lyric in “Big Bangs, Black Holes, Meteorites,” the album’s first single. Reserved for the album’s second half, it is one of the record’s most basic punk songs. Other notable tracks include “Sea Sick,” with propulsive chants and a buildup that almost self-destructs, and “Wishing Well,” which rides a beautiful melody to compensate for its plain structure.

Not everything is good. When Love is All fails, like on “Movie Romance” and
“19 Floors,” the band approaches annoyance. On those tracks, it sounds like they’re trying to manufacture their peppiness, as if they’re writing exercises rather than fully fleshed out songs. While they thankfully avoid the sophomore slump on this record, avoiding that artificiality will likely grow more difficult in the future.

Voice’s Choices: “Give it Back,” “Sea Sick,” “When Giants Fall”

Read More

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments