Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
Josephine Olausson questions a song that's inappropriately upbeat in the song "Last Choice," during a moment that needs more melancholic fare. It needs more of a dreary temper than a sun-fried one. It's a time not to be singing along and thrashing about in some kind of wild abandon. But that's not what's on the deck. It's a song that's almost offensive in its cheeriness and bounce-ability. Oh, but who's Olausson kidding when she's trying to scoff at the cheeriness of a song when it's just not right for the moment? It's what she and her band, Love Is All, do so well - making mundane moods and attitudes markedly better with infectious poppiness, horns a-blaring and giving out a vibration that makes it feel as if we're unwillingly dancing along to it all, as if the floorboards were bending and bowing below our toes with the energy of dozens of other happy revelers, wherever they may be. In the majority of Love Is All songs, the focus that Olausson takes is that of someone who might not have a whole lot to be crabby about, but there needs to be something to drag through, there needs to be a reason to be pessimistic. It's as if most things are good, but here we are sniffing for a conflict, something that needs resolution before too long. There's the party in "Last Choice" that isn't working out as well as anticipated - where all of the goers are tying up the loose ends at the end of the night. There's not another drop to drink in the place, the streamers are hanging down from the ceiling in tatters and droops, people are stumbling through some last minute courting (who's going with whom, who's going to be left to grab a cab home alone) and there's a looming sense of desperation. The protagonist in question - she with the microphone - decides to submit to the guy who wouldn't normally make her long list, someone she doesn't like anything about, as not to strike out completely. It's no cause for celebration, but the music suggests otherwise, moving us this way and that, getting us to throw our heads back and just boozily hop and sway. The more demanding need to be satisfied on that given night is quelling some kind of aloneness that will not shut up and the song ends abruptly as the sun is breaking through the night in the east and the seagulls are starting their breakfast chatter. There's plenty of breakfast time talk through the band's 2008 release "A Hundred Things Keep Me Up At Night," and all seems to revolve around the daily struggle of getting out of bed or not getting out of bed. The undisputed winner is not getting out of bed. Olausson sings, "I'm bored to death, I'm bored as shit," and it's convincing. The spread of breakfast foods - one can imagine sausages, scrambled eggs, flapjacks, syrup and whipped cream - is impressive she mentions at one point, but it can't bring her to throw the covers off and prop herself up into the land of the living and alert. She'd rather sleep and give that boredom more time to explore. And yet, there we are dancing - perhaps it's all done in pajamas, this dancing. There are no ominous particles of gloom that seem to arise within the designated worries so it may just be that she and her band from Gothenburg, Sweden, which is effortlessly gleeful and soaring, worry too much. Observation or prognostications of futures are sought in the bottoms of wishing wells, on the surfaces of palms and in a deck of cards, but it's that invisible cast of uncertainty that is so hard to deal with for the people in Olausson's lyrics, setting those scares into them like tattoos. They never know when they might wake up and smash their heads into the bookshelf first thing in the day and they don't know when something good might happen either. It's enough to keep a body in the bed, but the possibility of that not happening and something so much better happening is enough to give a person enough of a kick in the pants. Screw the flu. Screw the spilled milk and oh well if you're responsible for your neighbor's dog getting walked. The odds that it won't be all bad are enough to fuel the inappropriately upbeat tendencies that anyone might have.