Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Lightning Love's November Birthday (debut CD release at the Blind Pig, 12 / 6 with Friendly Foes, Charlie Slick

Lightning Love
November Birthday
(words: milo)

Well, it's soft and sweet and fuzzy and vulgar and blunt and biting and bittersweet…stars could be born, here!

I hate to dredge up cringe-able clichés, (momentary lack of caffeine leaves the mind reeling into comfort zones) but, Ypsi-Arbor trio Lightning Love, ahem, 'kill you softly,' with their tight, measured, aerodynamic pop songs. It's an amorphous blend of many schools: twee-pop's whimsy up-down-left-right sways without the saccharine whine; indie-pop's intimate lo-fi basement clankety construction without the acerbic ear-bending feedback or false-starts; classic 60 pop/rock (and the 90's revivalism) sans the herky-jerky hooks and aural congestion.

There's so much of what feels like familiar brews of pop, but yet, comes off feeling like something new based on the different turns it takes, particularly in delivery. It has that waltzy dream-pop mellow rock we know from Yo La Tengo ("Friends"), but even more naked, just 2 steps above the minimalism of Young Marble Giants (see "Somehow I Forgot"), or perhaps, a sweeter, much more palatable Beat Happening. ("Boys Who Are Taken"). But it's never head-over-heels, it's never glisteningly charming, as the lyrics are unapologetically raw at times; we're rapt with melodies that sway the body and words that break the heart.

Half of the songs are striking, stripped down piano-heavy affairs, bewitching ballads that bring the listener up close and over the shoulder of our angelic, slightly timorous singer, Leah Diehl, serenading out of her diary-like lyric book, ("Wait Wait") which regales blown apart scenes of late nights filled with forbidden love, ("I Think We're Alright") frustrating games ("Boys Taken"), loud boozy lechery ("Friends"), with sprinklings of existentialism (personal fav. "Everyone I Know"), with candid punch-in-the-gut poetic lyrics and sugary minimalist synthy dance tunes about peeing and puking in elevator shafts. Drummer Aaron Diehl pounds out/taps/brushes a perfectly balanced percussion while exceptional guitarist Ben Collins adds a shimmering flavor with his pic and his back-up vocals.

Nothing spills over, it's never overbearing but it never loses you. Its modest delivery makes it feel achingly genuine, and thus irresistible.


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