Eclectic is a word best suited to describe The Delicate Seam, the second release from The Bloodthirsty Lovers. The album has its share of shimmering, otherworldly sound and dreamily delivered lyrics. On “The Mods Go Mad,” for instance, the song blasts off with the type of sonic outburst one would expect from a My Bloody Valentine album. Frontman David Shouse playfully proclaims “You’re my napalm, I’m your codeine” over a bright, scintillating background of washed out noise. But later The Bloodthirsty Lovers stray into somber territories; they even traipse through hopping doo wop on “El Shocko,” a happy-go-lucky tune complete with Beach Boys backing vocals and a giddy piano.
Yeah, eclectic is a pretty good word to describe it, though wacky also kind of works. Both words, at least for me, tend to describe things that elicit warm or wry smiles.
The Memphis-based Blood Thirsty Lovers are a sonically charged three piece vehicle for Shouse, formerly of The Grifters and Those Bastard Souls. On The Delicate Seam, Shouse builds spacey walls around his goofy lyrics which he delivers in a Wayne Coyne-ish register. The Flaming Lips feel is most pronounced on the whispy “A Postcard From the Sea.” As a narrator makes a cross country road trip to see the ocean, Shouse paints the drive with the lyrics, “Changing tires and radio stations / Finish postcards bleached out on the dash / Sunset over a disappearing shoulder / This is truly love at last.”
Shouse and company switch from seaside reverie to the slower punching pulse of “The Conversation.” Opening on a four note bassline and languid drums, the song turns into a massive, swelling arrangement of fuzzy guitars, banshee wails and pops. Shouse shirks the Coyne comparisons here, delivering a louder, more aggressive drone.
The centerpiece, “Happiness,” is a subtle, sullen yet inescapable song that sounds like it could have been taken from a serious coming of age/teen romance gone wrong film from the 80s. It’s the shortest and most straightforward track off The Delicate Seam, a comparatively bare song predominantly driven by a staid guitars and a simple bass rather than dreamy shimmers. The quiet, meditative sound is even more pronounced as it’s sandwiched between the previously mentioned “The Conversation” and the overpowering, lumbering blasts of “Now You Know.” The lyrics are also pretty simple, but they feel apt for the autumnal mood. There’s a soft smile moment as a moping Shouse sings “And if the day seems hopeless, the sunshine just needs to be focused.”
The album finishes with the delicate “Medicated,” featuring Katie Eastburn from Young People. Eastburn’s pleading voice is ushered in by whispery drums, gliding, whale song moans and a lazy, benign acoustic guitar. Prior to the bridge, Eastburn pleads “Don’t grow up jaded / Stay medicated.” Eastburn and Shouse duet in the latter half of the song, the drums more assured and the whale wails traded for duck waddling synths.
The Delicate Seam is a quirky yet endearing blend for its sparse eight songs and its unpredictable, spacy 34 minutes. It’s a sonic ray of sunshine, diverse in arrangement yet hardly unfocused.
The Flaming Lips – The Soft Bulletin
Grandaddy – Under the Western Freeway
Mercury Rev – Yerself is Steam