Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Nick Krill
Stuart McLamb, when he sings, "Lalita, don't you hate these kisses?" it's as if we're somewhere we're not supposed to be. Right away, there are unwarranted stares and cheap feels and meaningless interest that comes off as flirtation, but there are two people who recognize what's going on and that makes the verbal and non-verbal communication happening through the frittering breeze all the more intriguing. McLamb is a devil of a wordsmith and even when complication isn't favored in the delivery (the actual construction of the yarns is tight and focused for the most part, nothing all that flowery), it is the guest of honor in all the tales of the convoluted affairs that any heart seems to get into the middle of. When he sings about those kisses, we're drawn to thinking about old men looking at pretty young girls, with their eyes drooling and their fascinations running a hole into their head's carpet. They stand there and coolly exchange platitudes, tell them that they look ravishing tonight and hold them in an awkward embrace for a much longer than acceptable amount of time. They deliver a heavily cologned peck on the cheek and they pull the young fox in close to the chest and graphically imagine all that's pressed against him, as dirty and crass as that is. Of course, this isn't the oeuvre of Love Language to keep conjuring these kinds of images, but instead to point out the various ways that the simple acts of attraction and want and lust can mutate and get ruffled. There are broken hearts all over this album, but McLamb goes about the telling of them in a unique way, without the sad sack offerings or the woe some rehashing of all that went south. The self-titled debut album is a fuzzy and slightly distorted collection of variations on the pop structure that is snappy and memorable, not to mention tells a story that can't be ignored. Young and just getting started, the North Carolina band is led by McLamb who wrote and recorded the majority of the record on his own before rounding up a crew to play it with him. You learn a lot about the man from the way he goes about being descriptive in giving us the picture while framing it in a raw and tipsy garb. He writes like a Cheever or a Yates about love, and the way that it sits so kindly in the ear is a testament to what have to have been hours and hours of listening to others (whether they're greats just the very goods) play with the words and melodies that they were choosing to express themselves with. It's an incredible debut that shouldn't be overlooked in any capacity as McLamb has a way with multiple languages.
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