The debut album by The Love Language sounds like the late stages of a great party: when stragglers lament lost loves and belt out old favorites while swaying arm in arm. In these very wee hours Bessie Smith requested a pig foot and Warner Brothers cartoon characters sang “How Dry I Am.”
This lo-fi, sing-along—like good friends gathered in an abandoned Norse Hall—is actually a solo effort by frontman Stu McLamb, recorded on a four-track in a storage unit. That said, it should be easy to re-create on tour with a merry band of loyal cohorts.
The Love Language has been compared to Guided by Voices—and I’ll throw in Yo La Tengo and the Magnetic Fields for good measure—but McLamb’s influences seem to date back much further. His vocal style owes something to a late-Beatles Paul McCartney, resurrected here without the cheese but with all the cheekiness. McLamb references old music-hall ditties, 1950s mambo riffs, and drunken cowboy laments with a pre-dawn, back-alley abandon that McCartney could never match.
In fact, The Love Language speaks abandon at its best. Next time I find myself at the dark end of a party approaching dawn, these are the songs I’ll be singing.
The Love Language opens for Headlights at the Badlander Monday, April 6, at 9 PM with Victory Smokes. $5.