REVIEW: Love of Everything: piano.bedroom.florida
the love of everything: piano.bedroom.florida [Record Label, 2002]
Three words? An upturned face.
piano.bedroom.florida begins with vinyl scratches and a lilting, piano melody - music like white sunlight that tumbles into an attic, music like kicking stones on a lonely grey day. By the time Bobby Burg begins to sing, with his high, puppet's voice, the mood is that of a reverie, a melancholy window-gaze. As with the work of Múm, whose still-yet-flourishing aesthetic the Love of Everything recall quite fiercely, much of the poignancy here lies in the silences. The listener takes breaths between piano chords, between plaintive, nostalgic calls.
This disc is the collection of three 7"s by Brooklyn's the Love of Everything, made up of songwriter Bobby Burg and instrumentalist Matt Clark. The album clocks in at less than twenty-five minutes, but it feels much longer (in a good way): these are mini-epics of emotion, lyric poems that glitter with honesty and care. As with the work of Mirah (who also appears on the album), the songs sometimes border on the precious - but only once or twice does the pixie-cuteness feel embarassing. When Burg asks, with a squeak, "are you gonna get fucked?", I can't help but wince... the feeling fades, however, as the sleepy guitar continues on its path.
piano.bedroom.florida's most engaging songs are from the first EP; each of these uses piano as a focal-point, with slow swirls of organ, flute, and on "It Feels Good to be Alive", snappy drums. There, Burg is Ben Folds' little brother, the one who writes little stories on party napkins instead of going out to see Clerks. "I need blood in my life / I want it in my life", he sings over an up-an'-at-'em melody. It's disquieting, like death contemplated during a water-fight, but the contrast feels human and familiar.
'bedroom's four songs are weakest, lofi music that sniffs too closely at the heels of Lou Barlow. "The Greastest Day of My Life" stumbles, broken-voiced, over a sinister mix of guitar and crash. "Tease to Teach" meanders, and Burg's voice strains on the plain, camp (literally/figuratively) lyrics. "Stay Unsafe" lifts the bar again, slowing things to a meagre shuffle and slipping autumn tragedy under the track's happy facade: "we'll celebrate..."
The last part of the album, 'florida', is rich in sensation and sound. "Summer Somewhere Else" lays a foundation of warm guitar and well-placed drums, a bed of matted grasses, and Burg's upbeat vocals dance in evening light. "Presidents", a duet with Mirah, is a collection of near-absurd phrases, a playful back-and-forth over pulsing piano. "Bill Burg"'s ambient noise - piano tinkle, drum rattle, the sound of mistakes - captures the spirit of Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, and as the album's longest track, it takes its time before introducing a recognizable melody. Burg's words are poignant, like a less bitter Bright Eyes; one pictures blue skies and sepia photographs. "I've always got / What I almost wanted."
piano.bedroom.florida has a clear vision and a beautiful, rippling smile. It is youthful and living, optimistic even in the midst of heartbreak. This is kind bedroom folk - Clark Kent to Bonnie Prince Billy's Superman, the music Smog would make if Bill Callahan still believed in god.