photo by Zach Wagner
by Samuel Segrist
With a premature and unseasonal spring, the yearning for summertime freedom is high. For those trapped within institutions of labor or education, enduring the confinements of windowless, fluorescent-filled rooms, the tedium contrasts with the longing for fun in the sun. An apt soundtrack for an escape is Bellevue/Papillion-based In Love and their full-length album.
Yes, in these problematic, cynical, “interesting-in-the-ancient-Chinese-curse-sense-of-the-word” times, there is a band of five young, Midwestern males making music in defiance of negativity, detachment and ironic hipsterness. Why has there not been a band before now called “In Love”? Maybe the world hasn’t been ready for it and — cue the Burt Bacharach — what the world needs now is In Love.
To see their upbeat, fun, energetic set live, you’re likely to hear them finish a tune and shout “Thank you, we’re In Love!” The inherent charm in this philosophical outlook on their vibe and personality is a kind of manna that allows for the band to sustain itself against the inevitable barbs of a cruel and fickle world. Haters gonna hate, but who cares?
They’re In Love.
Not only that, but as the title of their album reveals, the object of their affection is none other than the second person, singular AND plural. That’s right, the title of the album is With You. This gesture is an indication of an open invitation: Love this band or leave them, but once you give them a listen, you’d be cold-hearted to do the latter.
Ah, yes, the music, not just the food of love, but the result of In Love. Play on. The album opens with “Being Lost,” a dreamy strummer of clean guitar lines and a snare drum cadence, reminiscent of Bends-era Radiohead before the song busts into the chorus where they sing, “There’s just something so beautiful about being lost / Let’s just get lost so we can find each other.”
Sophomore track “It’s Love” kicks things off with a laid-back stomp before launching into a sunny Jason Mraz-style pop tune, promising all the earnest sweetness of dependable romance. Lyrically, almost all the songs are about the relationships between young lovers. It is familiar territory, but certain lyrical twists bring a charming freshness to it.
For instance, on track “Just as Lost,” a more impassioned vocal belts out “We don’t need to know a thing about the who, the what, the when, the why, and how / We won’t have a cow.” The brief allusion to Bartholomew Simpson’s chill-out imperative makes the listener smile and chuckle quietly on the inside. Other tracks like “Breaking Your Heart” have echoes of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game,” which is an appropriate point on the album for a change in tone. It’s like the first half of the album represents the optimistic side of early dates, but as the album progresses, rough edges that were previously airbrushed out of the picture by the novelty of a budding relationship become apparent.
Many of the songs on the second half are more aggressive in a soft/loud, Pixies/Trail of Dead sort of way, indicating that perhaps this charming young man has more of a muscular, aggressive edge to him. After a series of stompers and rockers, the band takes a respite on penultimate track “This Goodnight,” which is a sweet lullaby of tune.
The vocals are varied, owing to the trade-off in vocals between rhythm guitarists Zach Short and Chris Atkins. Much of the sonic texture comes from lead guitarist Bradley Tyler Moore, who tastefully uses echoes and reverb effects to shake things up, but never calls too much attention to his playing in a flashy way, kind of a like a guy on a first date who doesn’t brag about his Pogs collection.
Bassist Cole Evans and drummer Ryan McKeever keep things nice and tight and occasionally cut out to enhance the dynamics of the vocals and guitars. The production is very crisp and punchy without being too slick.
These are pop-rock songs undoubtedly designed for wide radio-play, especially if that radio is blasting at a beach party or barbecue. With the warmer weather, it’s a good time to both fall, and be, In Love.