Everyone knows you don’t need great recording technology to make a great record. And you certainly don’t need a label to help get the word out, as many recent unsigned bands have made clear. But as Sweden’s Love is All has proven, you don’t even really need a website. With just a MySpace page, a label using only a MySpace page, and an endorsement from K Records founder/Dub Narcotic Sound System mastermind Calvin Johnson, the band made their lo-fi no-wave dancepunk sound heard, and even eventually scored a record deal with big timers Parlophone in the UK.
Love Is All is one of those increasingly not-so-rare cases where word-of-mouth and quality of material mean more than promotional budgets. And it’s not hard to see why people have been gravitating toward the band’s super-catchy, fuzzy anthems—they emit joy, propelled by a non-stop supply of energy and, of course, love. Every abrasive guitar chord, every funky bassline, every hit hi-hat, and every one of Josephine Olausson’s shrieks just add an extra layer of fun to the band’s irresistible sound. The call and response vocals of “one more time” in opener “Talk Talk Talk Talk” begin to charge up all that fun energy, which takes very little time to reach full capacity and explode shortly thereafter with Olausson’s stuttered recitation of the song’s title and Fredrik Eriksson’s squealing saxophone freakout.
In each song, the band seems to run, headfirst at full speed, between two posts: one marked “spastic” and the other marked “anthemic.” On the one side, Nicholaus Sparding’s jagged guitar chords and Johan Lindwall’s funky bass seem to bounce around and repel off one another, while on the other, they launch in unison toward something more awe-inspiring. A fine example of this: “Ageing Had Never Been His Friend,” which begins abrasive and slightly off-kilter and instantly becomes one of the catchiest songs anyone’s heard ever, during the chorus. Something similar happens during “Busy Doing Nothing,” but instead, the line between those two posts is blurred, ultimately creating a disco-flavored post-punk gem, the best on the album. And “Spinning and Scratching” takes a power chord progression toward a wordless chorus of harmonies that truly stun.
There are, of course, some “slow” songs, that word being in quotes because the pace never really lets up, just momentarily gives way toward stronger melody and fewer screeches on the part of Olausson. One such example is “Turn the Radio Off,” which adds glockenspiel and a New Order-like melody. “Felt Tip,” the longest song on the album at slightly more than four minutes, is a mellower, dubby affair with a bassline you won’t forget anytime soon. But even when Love Is All is at their quietest, they seem to be having a blast, which is exactly what the listener should, in turn, do after hearing this record. It seems as if Love Is All built up so much momentum in their whirlwind punk revival tunes alone that they didn’t even need a street team or a damn website.
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.