Austin, Texas’ Love Inks has a very nominal approach to making music. The trio – two girls and a guy – simply use the skyward vocals of Sherry LeBlanc against a vintage drum machine. Maybe keyboard might get thrown into the mix. Maybe a guitar. But the approach is simplistic at best. While the group references ‘80s UK groups such as Marine Girls and Young Marble Giants, you can hear traces of Beach House and the xx in the outfit’s sound. Their latest release Exi is 10 tracks of uncomplicated, but gorgeous music. It’s also a challenge to write about Love Inks, since the music is so bare, so raw and so primal. However, parts of the record are instantly hummable: “Shoot 100 Panes of Glass”, the LP’s first song, has a memorable chorus: “Give me a break / Give me your lungs hollowed out,” sings LeBlance with laidback urgency. “Dawn / Poem” could almost pass for a Yo La Tengo song from And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out. It’s glacial, but crystalline. Very pretty.
The album’s sole miscue is “Text Message”, a noise rock instrumental with discordant guitars that has an ear-piercing hum running underneath the track. It’s an experiment, but one that would have been best left in the studio. However, Exi is an intriguing listen, for Love Inks reduce popular music to naked elements, and yet remains tuneful throughout. This is the sort of thing that is inspired by summer breezes, and the band makes some hay with just a few elements. That bedroom aesthetic is pleasing, and not just run-of-the-mill. The album is grounded in modern indie rock, and is duly lo-fi: you can hear tape hiss now and then, as though it were virtually an instrument in and of itself. For those who want to wander out of your comfort zone, and hear what just a voice and a couple of instruments can do in a quiet and laid-back manner, Exi will undoubtedly hit the spot, and is a great addition to the pantheon of minimal music.