REVIEW: Love of Everything: friENDS
Love of Everything: friENDS [Record Label, 2002] (mp3s)
Three words? small voice anthems
Love Of Everything comes from the most unlikely of places. The brainchild of ex-Hertzsprung Gap guitarist Bob Burg and featuring the collaboration of ex-Storm & Stress drummer Kevin Shea, the result is far from anything you would expect from post-rock veterans. Instead, what we get is a beautifully sincere, over the top pop EP that wouldn't be out of place in the Elephant 6 catalogue.
friENDS is Love Of Everything's fourth release, and a short one at that. Nine songs that finish up in around fifteen minutes, it doesn't take long for Bob Burg to get his little stories across, nor does it take us long to be brought under his spell. From the opening "live" title track - with a simple drum machine beat, a Casio keyboard piano and an unbelievably catchy chorus of singers insisting "You take good care of me!" - Love Of Everything draws us into its world. These are light, lovely pop ditties, with simple instrumentation and an undeniable sincerity.
Lyrically, Bob doesn't demand much. "I want you to meet my parents", he nearly begs in "Strip To The Sky," and he sings matter of factly in "Happiness": "You get so pissed when the people who love you stop." These aren't musings on big issues, rather just simple statements on love, life and relationships. Yes, it's heart spilling emo at times on friENDS, but even the cynic in me is willing to forgive the sometimes cringeworthy lyrics in favour of sheer adoration at the naked delivery. Bob isn't holding back or hiding behind any kind of attitude - or the latest fashion trend. This is the real deal.
Kevin Shea seems to have had a great influence on the instrumentation. The songs often start simple enough with a plucked guitar or keyboard melody, but are later built upon with Shea's unique drumming style, or horns that wouldn't be out of place on a Neutral Milk Hotel record. "Best In Tensions" is easily the best track on friENDS, and the least lo-fi. In just under three minutes the song builds from tuba and piano and ends with wonderful drum work, overdubbed vocals, piano and tuba almost playfighting with each other: you can imagine everyone recording this, smiling to each other as it come together.
Nevertheless, Love Of Everything isn't without its faults. Bob is all too willing to deliver often at the expense of the listener. "Buttercups Up" features Bob's distinct high pitched, nasal delivery accompanied by piano. He very nearly screeches his way through this one, sounding like a higher pitched, even more pre-pubescent Tim Kinsella. It's difficult to listen all the way through as your hand sits ready on the "skip" button.
That mistep aside, friENDS is definitely worth seeking out - and certainly worth the $6 it costs. It is the best I've heard in kitchen sink pop for a long time. Like Joan Of Arc without the French film posturing, or Of Montreal without the props and costumes, Love Of Everything deserve a place in your heart.