Hold Out – Love Inks
31:58 min • Monofonus Press • September 23, 2013
Andrew Darley reviews
Despite all the advancements in studio recording technology, Austin-based trio Love Inks have stuck to their guns and recorded their second album using age-old, tried-and-tested tape recording that reigned on their debut, E.S.P. The album follows the same aesthetic as their first, which disregards the use of recording software such as Protools in favour of half-inch tape recordings that are then mixed using analogue methods. Lead singer Sherry LeBlanc explains that it is not rebellion to revert to this old way; rather, the band prefer the “labour of love” of its process. She believes that the challenge of their approach focuses them on their “rhythm and timing and even muscle memory. It leaves very little room for error on the musicians part and adds very distinct fingerprints from the person mixing. There’s no auto-tune or cutting and pasting within the tracks”. Generation Club expands on the minimalist style they established on their debut, but adopts warmer tones than its predecessor.
While E.S.P. dealt with heartbreak and grief, this album maintains a more hopeful outlook as its lyrics concentrate on accepting the past and looking forward to the future. The music was coloured by their experiences whilst touring the first album, particularly Berlin, which they began and ended the tour. Their travels exposed the band to new music, books and culture, which then fed in to and shaped where they wanted to take their sound next. Their style prides itself on the minimalist and pushing it to its maximum affect. All of the songs are primarily based on synthesizers, drum machines and guitar, but their sparse arrangements are written in a way that is filled with emotion.
One of the most characteristic aspects of Love Inks’ music is their use of drum machines. The playful pulse of programmed drums lend to the soothing feel of the songs that may have been diminished by a live drums. ‘Hearts Up’ features an unpredictable drum sequence that underlies LeBlanc’s sweet melody and nod to New Order’s classic ‘Temptation’. Four of the ten songs fall in or around the two minute mark which works to their advantage. Songs like ‘Time’ and ‘I’m Gone’ are fleetingly direct which gives the music a feeling that it cannot be held down, rather its passing through the listener.
One may be forgiven for at first thinking that some of the songs bleed into one another. Don’t be discouraged; its uniform sound embodies a distinct one in which the individual songs open up and reveal themselves more and more, with melodies becoming further distinguished and lyrics becoming more identifiable. Now that singles are not of paramount importance, there are no blatant ones here. Rather, it needs to be taken as a whole to really appreciate what they have made.
The album closes with two of its most delicate moments. ‘Hold Out’ chimes in its realization of a partner who is unable or unwilling to commit to the relationship, whilst ‘Waiting On A Plane’ ends with coming to terms with the fact that a relationship is over and the uncertainty of what the future will hold. The method in which the band have recorded, and its unpolished sound, allows this album to sound as intimate as the relationships they sing of. Generation Club has the texture of an echo, gently reverberating again and again until its message is heard.