REVIEW: The Graves: Love*Love*Love
The Graves: Love*Love*Love [FILM Guerrero, 2002] (mp3)
Three words? Not too good.
It is unavoidable that Greg Olin's (A.K.A. The Graves) debut album Love*Love*Love will be compared to Phil Elvrum's Microphones project. The similarities are obvious: one guy using a pluralistic band name employing dozens of people to make tiny, tiny songs. However, where the Microphones make their tiny songs epic and beautiful, Olin is content to let his become tired and forgettable, making the whole listening experience a chore.
The small number of Graves songs that work do so by simply being good songs - not platforms for quirky and annoying instrumentation. The shambling "I Am So Tired" is elevated by a jazzy guitar lead and the semiconscious synthline accentuates Olin's exhausted singing and the autopilot percussion. "Curse a Thing" is also a winner: a terrific song made entirely better by some great trumpeting and background singing. And "Dark Hair is Cool Too" is a country-ish affair that overcomes the limitations of its recording quality, the results being on par with Yankee Hotel Foxtrot's best moments.
While Love*Love*Love has its strengths, they are few and mostly near the album's beginning, creating a vacuum of unimpressive songs that hardly distinguish themselves from one-other. "Evil is You" is an instrumental shuffle with a completely unmemorable horn line, leading directly into "Calm Me Down", "Kylodica" and "O'Connor Pass," a trifecta of songs so twee that it would make Elf Power vomit in outrage. But it is "Suburban Girls" and "How To Fake an Indian Summer" that represent the Graves at their worst; the former with its cheesy Leonard Cohen-style vocals and the latter with its infuriatingly repetitive xylophone and total misuse of a bad-ass song title.
Love*Love*Love does some things wonderfully, others horribly, but in the end, none of it does anything that is particularly new. All that this record has to offer exists already in your music collection, at the far end of your Ikea shelf or tucked under the short leg of the futon: CDs you wish you never made the mistake of buying.