Love Is All

Two Thousand and Ten Injuries

(Polyvinyl; 2010)

By Andrew Hall | 21 April 2010

When we last left Love Is All, they had released a firecracker of a sophomore record, A Hundred Things Keep Me Up At Night (2008), and followed it up with an EP, Last Choice (2009), that saw them pushing in about four directions at once. Two Thousand and Ten Injuries, the band’s third album, doesn’t fulfill their promise, however; instead of taking alternate shots at the heart and the throat (mostly by way of Åke Strömer’s apocalyptic sax solos), they shoot for both at once through a lens more indebted to British post-punk than ever before. While the band’s songs don’t appear to really be any better or worse than those that preceded them, they sound frustratingly subdued where they should be out for blood, and the whole thing is quite a bit less fun.

The most irritating thing about it is the fact that all of the basic elements that should make these good songs are still intact. “Repetition,” for example, has a great chorus—singer Josephine Olausson repeating “Be still, be still, my heart, you’re beating way too fast”—and the guitars and percussion moving the song along don’t seem problematic, but the entire production simply sounds flat and lifeless, devoid of the ramshackle energy and fuzz that made even the less-successful moments of A Hundred Things such a joy to revisit. On “Never Now,” Olausson again sounds great but nothing propels the song; it’s all a bit too airy, more concerned with texture. “Less Than Thrilled” suffers from the same problem, as Olausson’s distorted vocals get buried beneath the bass and hi-hat. When Strömer gets his turn, finally, on “The Birds Were Singing With All Their Might,” nothing about his instrument seems primed for high-frequency shitkicking; instead, he plays it completely straight atop their most eighties-indebted song yet. And then there’s “Early Warnings”—if the versions on the Last Choice EP and on this album differ, they do so very subtly, except that here the sequencing drains the song, one of the best this band has written yet, of its momentum.

My frustration is simple: not only does the record’s production drag down what could have (probably) been good songs, the band deliberately downplays its two best players, and everything suffers as a consequence. More than anything else, it reminds me of seeing Love Is All in late 2008. Following sets approximately 15-20 minutes in length from Nodzzz and Vivian Girls, Love Is All proceeded to play half an hour of pop that should’ve been about a million times more ragged than it was. The strength of A Hundred Things kept me interested, but both Injuries and that performance demonstrate a band attempting to transition into an even more pop-oriented realm—something, two years on, I’m not convinced they’re much closer at getting right.