The Lovethugs

The Lovethugs
Baylon Fading (2005, Rainbow Quartz)

Rainbow Quartz’s niche has always been traditional, late 60’s pure pop music. The label is hardly ever surprising, but for fans of men in scarves, paisley wallpaper, and taking a train to la-la land, look no further than this recent release from RQ.

The acoustic-driven, harmony-heavy songs shine, the John and Paul delivery adds some brightness, and with the sparkling production draped over it all, you might as well be staring directly into the sunshine of your Lovethug. Unless you’ve built a tolerance for such pop confection, it might be a bit too sugary to stomach.

I’d almost say Babylon Fading is another back-to-the-roots, sickly sweet nostalgia release a la the Thorns’ 2003 self-titled disc (although here we have the Hollies for inspiration rather than the Byrds), but the group offers more than syrup-thick harmonies and Britpop melodies. The sitar makes a superb cameo on ‘Close Beside Her’, and some (ahem) groovy organ work nabs a bit of the spotlight on ‘Saturn Day’ and other tracks. The Lovethugs then proceed to fill in every other nook and cranny with piano, flute, and handclaps. At times this assembly of instruments is wonderfully orchestrated – the shakers, congas, and slinky, serpentine guitar solo of ‘I’ve Heard A Rumor’ compliment each other very well, but the extracurricular guitar licks found on ‘Love Machine’ seem wanky. The Doors/Hendrix guitar blaze weaves it’s way around a few other songs as well, at times adding a bit of kick to the formula, at other times, such as on the happy-as-all-heck ‘Up For Love’ it seems a bit out of place.

It’s at this point we always come to the same difficult crossroads. This stuff is good, real good. It’s so good it’s almost like the real thing. And therein lays the problem. Instead of listening to the Lovethugs, why not just pull out some Beatles, Zombies, and the rest of the original invasion crew? Part of me is very curious to solve this riddle; another part of me cares a lot less, and just wants to listen to ‘Saturn Day’ again.

-Mark Hughson 7/30/05

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