By Reigning Sound
Former oblivion man, Greg Cartwright and his troop of garage rockers offer up their fourth album, 'Love and Curses;' a seething compilation of rusty old 60s rockers and ballads.
Taking a more meticulous approach to arranging these songs than perhaps they had on last album 'Too Much Guitar,' this record is more akin to the immaculate rock sound of 'Time Bomb High School'. We get an honest mixture of early rock and roll hooks, country plunk and undulating organ lines. Having backed one time teenage girl group star, Mary Weiss of the Shangri Las, and with keyboardist Dave Amels now on board, the band have groomed a more tender approach.
Reigning Sound are fantastically unashamed of the retro constituent of their sound, belting out unabashed nuggets style progressions like the first on the scene. Now, with the garage rock-psych deal very much in vogue amongst the indie crowd, there's every effort made to get these records obscured with vintage tape hiss sounds and piled with general clattering scuzz for the street cred. Cartwright and Co have altogether bypassed this phenomenon of lo-fi culture and gone straight for a polished pop sound. You can even hear what the lyrics are and everything.
For me, the jewel of 'Love and Curses' is the pounding commotion of 'If I Can't Come Back,' a song that would have been a sure-fire hit for Joe Meek in the day. Cartwright's raspy vocals may not quite breathe the soulful tones of his heroes, but serve their purpose for an exuberant celebration of this music, without pretence or posturing. Lyrically, the album is incisive and dry, notching up lovelorn stories of what once was. Cartwright is particularly trenchant in his descriptions, sometimes cutting a sorry and bitter figure. All in all, 'Love and Curses' is a brawny cut of rock and roll tradition, performed with momentum and realism, as the perfect antidote to the hip offerings of today's indie throng.