Music

The Bloodthirsty Lovers: self-titled

Kevin Jagernauth

Bloodthirsty Lovers

The Bloodthirsty Lovers

Label: Frenchkiss
Amazon
iTunes

Posting on message boards is one of my greatest weaknesses. No matter how many times I tell myself that I will never get in an online argument again, it somehow happens. I let typed words on a screen get under my skin and get the better of me. Lately, I've been trying to tame the frequency with which I browse these boards. Recently, I stumbled upon a thread where various posters were offering up their choices for "Bands That Sound Like the Postal Service". Inevitably, Dntel was mentioned, as was most of the Morr Music roster (Notwist, Ms. John Soda, etc.). A couple of days later, I popped in the Bloodthirsty Lovers CD into the stereo and was surprised by what I heard.

The Bloodthirsty Lovers, featuring David Shouse -- whose resume includes the Grifters and Those Bastard Souls -- offer up something quite different from Shouse's past projects. Psychedelic, poppy, dreamy, and at times terribly catchy, their self-titled debut is a pleasant, synth-driven indie rock surprise, which will stand tall on a CD shelf beside the likes of Death Cab for Cutie, +/-, Midwest Product, and, yes, the Postal Service. While not as straight ahead as the aforementioned bands, the Bloodthirsty Lovers are just as accessible, providing a darker, trippier, and at times heavier take on glitch pop.

The CD opens with "Telepathic", a bass-driven tune featuring haunting synths that seem to have escaped from a Dracula film soundtrack. With the only lyrics being the name of the song, it is surprising how powerful the song is as it rises and falls. With waves of guitars that enter and exit with tidal power, "Telepathic" justifies its five-minute running time. "Hardcore", whose vocal melody sounds eerily like "An Echo, a Stain" from Bjork's Vespertine, finds the chorus punctuated by beautifully reverberated guitars. The instantly danceable "2000 Light Years from Home" immediately conjures the majestic lo-fi pop of the Magnetic Fields and the brimming confidence of Pulp. Punchy and ready to take on the world, the song is easily the centerpiece of the disc.

It's too bad the following few songs drag the debut down. "Call off the Thugs" is more boring than dreamy, the instrumental "Datapunk" is betrayed by the kitschy guitar line, and "Transgression #9" suffers the unfortunate fate of sounding like the Fun Lovin' Criminals. This funk-propelled number simply doesn't fit in the flow of the rest of the album.

Fortunately, the album goes for a strong finish. "Take the Time" takes the breathless vocal style of the Sea & Cake's Sam Prekop and fuses it to Beach Boys-style production. "1000 Light Years from Home" is not a reprise of the former song, nor an homage to the Rolling Stones, but rather a nod to Shouse's past bands, and is a riff rocker that still finds room for some well placed beats and synths. The album closer, "Waking Up in a Good Place" is, like "Datapunk" and "Transgression #9", influenced by '60s and '70s funk, but tames it considerably, providing an admirable finish.

This summer, I caught the Bloodthirsty Lovers live, when they opened for symphonic space rockers the Flaming Lips. The band at that show was quite different from the one on this CD. Shouse and company seemed to lean towards the wall of noise rock of his past bands, instead of the subtle melodies that are found on this debut. I can only hope that the Bloodthirsty Lovers were trying to keep up with the sonic assault of their tourmates, as they definitely have a bright future ahead of them if they continue their inventive, keyboard-driven indie pop.

In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

This week on our games podcast, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

This week, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

Keep reading... Show less

Which is the draw, the art or the artist? Critic Rachel Corbett examines the intertwined lives of two artists of two different generations and nationalities who worked in two starkly different media.

Artist biographies written for a popular audience necessarily involve compromise. On the one hand, we are only interested in the lives of artists because we are intrigued, engaged, and moved by their work. The confrontation with a work of art is an uncanny experience. We are drawn to, enraptured and entranced by, absorbed in the contemplation of an object. Even the performative arts (music, theater, dance) have an objective quality to them. In watching a play, we are not simply watching people do things; we are attending to the play as a thing that is more than the collection of actions performed. The play seems to have an existence beyond the human endeavor that instantiates it. It is simultaneously more and less than human: more because it's superordinate to human action and less because it's a mere object, lacking the evident subjectivity we prize in the human being.

Keep reading... Show less
3

Gabin's Maigret lets everyone else emote, sometimes hysterically, until he vents his own anger in the final revelations.

France's most celebrated home-grown detective character is Georges Simenon's Inspector Jules Maigret, an aging Paris homicide detective who, phlegmatically and unflappably, tracks down murderers to their lairs at the center of the human heart. He's invariably icon-ified as a shadowy figure smoking an eternal pipe, less fancy than Sherlock Holmes' curvy calabash but getting the job done in its laconic, unpretentious, middle-class manner.

Keep reading... Show less
5
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image