Review Summary: Raucous power-pop with enough antiphony, hand claps, and finger snaps to send you back to the 1970s and 1980s while keeping you firmly planted in the 21st century.
Rhetorical question, but feel free to leave a comment if it behooves you: why do you like the music that you like?
I can't verbalize any concise answer (another rhetorical question: when am I ever
concise in anything, given my penchant for long-windedness?), and as you can see already, I cannot in good conscience quantify extremely powerful records (to me, that is) that otherwise might be perceived as average on a 1-5 scale, but I suppose I can provide a short list (please note that if your music has at least one of the following qualifiers, I'll probably think it's the greatest thing ever*):
: Locksley - a quartet composed of the brothers Laz (Jesse [guitars, vocals] and Jordan [bass, vocals]), Kai Kennedy [guitars, vocals], and Sam Bair [drums and percussion] - hails from the cheese-crazed state of Wisconsin. Not to perpetuate stereotypes, but from Detroit to Cleveland to Chicago, the Midwest resonates this palpable blue-collar work ethic juxtaposed with a relatively down-to-earth and appreciative demeanor. This same demeanor translates well on Be In Love
because the record emanates an air of familiarity to it on multiple levels; for example, imagine a time capsule comprised of sounds from '70s/'80s Americana rock-and-roll interspersed with a punk-meets-Motown energy, and you essentially have the tenets of Locksley's core sound. While comparisons to the Beatles and the Beach Boys are unfair - it seems unlikely that any band will rival these artists' prestige across multiple generations - it is far from unreasonable to suggest that the Wisconsin-based quartet is heavily influenced by the aforementioned artists' moxie and zeal.
As another example, the three vocalists, collectively, have all penned lyrics that won't revolutionize the way we listen to and think about music, but I surmise that that was never their goal, as Be In Love
is extremely relatable in scope and sequence. Arguments can be made that writing about tried-and-true topics such as love lost and gained or nostalgia for the past while looking towards the future can be nauseatingly repetitive, but when they're delivered with such bubbly, charismatic charm coupled with loud guitars and raucous percussion, it's easy to immerse yourself sonically.
To continue, tracks like Kai Kennedy-led album highlight "Days of Youth" (with its capoed-at-12 guitar sounding like a ukulele) and Jesse Laz's rollicking "21st Century" tell stories of paying tribute to the past connected to a flair of hope for the future. In the former cut, Kennedy shares a story of a conversation shared with a loved one ("We were walking, we were talking of our wounds that wouldn't heal / And we agreed that just the need for love was something of appeal / . . . Has it really been this long since we were laughing out a song, and our hands still seem to fit, tied tight into the other's grip?") and how such discussion can lead to blossoming new beginnings. Conversely, Laz's bellicose shouts of "And nothing works out, just like the plans we made / And nobody gives it, if you want it, you take / Everything's changing, and that's fine with me" and "Taking the pictures to remember the times when we were young and out-of-line" can bring to mind our own memories of the past when we were growing up. The role of memory appears to be an intriguing, oft-visited idea throughout the record.
While illustrations like these - and others to come later - certainly help substantiate this familiarity proposition, the instrumentation also parallels this thought. While similar acts can sometimes emphasize rhythm over melody, Locksley are able to manage exhibiting control over both. "Love You Too's" simple, yet effective chord progression, "Down For Too Long's" bouncy bass lines, and the complete packages that are "Days of Youth" and "Darling, It's True" all illustrate Locksley's knack for tasteful songwriting. I also believe that Sam Bair is actually a T-Rex trapped in a drummer's body: his strikes are very staccato-like and very loud throughout the record, which adds a certain likability to Locksley's rhythm section. Kennedy is the band's workhorse, whose crafty instrumental prowess throughout Be In Love
is matched wonderfully by the Laz brothers' spunk and give-and-take energy.
Antiphony and the "Something-for-Everybody" Effect
: Call-and-answer vocal harmonies are abundant throughout Be In Love
, and it's without question the record's most redeeming trait because of its ability to invoke a vocal response out of the listener. In so doing, Be In Love
makes for an exhilarating listening experience that's augmented by having others around you to join in on the festivities.
For example, "The Whip" is a quintessential example of Locksley's engaging call-and-answer vocalizing. Beginning with basic instructions from Jesse Laz, the listener [purportedly] responds to Jordan Laz's litany of "Whoa-oh-ohh, oh-OHH-oh, whoa-oh-oh-ohs" supported by noisy, syncopated chords, Bair's punchy percussion, and Kennedy's swift guitar licks and feverish solos. The same can be said about the bombastic "One More Minute" and album highlight "Darling, It's True's" chorus: "Darling, something you should (know, know, know) / Hate to, but I have to (go, go, go) / Wish it wasn't, but (oh, oh, oh) it's true (woo-ooh) / Well, I miss you darling, oh (yeah, yeah, yeah) / And I think about you every (night and day) / Forget about you? No (way-ay-ay), girl, I love you!" clearly demonstrates how infectious such simplistic prose can engage any listener. And you can't forget the random "Whoa!," "Wooo!" and "Hey!" shouts that pop up consistently throughout the record.
It's Be In Love
's engaging and almost disarming charm that makes the album so easy to listen to, regardless of how well-versed you are in music. Whether you're someone who fears anything not on the Top 40 countdown or you're well-versed in finding new and innovative music across millions of blogs on the Internet, there's an extremely high probability that you will find some element of Be In Love
to be an enticing listening affair. To exemplify, Be In Love
is the model summer record because of its upbeat tempo and pizzazz, sure, but it's one that you can throw on in the car while you and your friends are roadtripping to the beach for the day. Further, I would argue that this is what Locksley's ultimate goal for Be In Love
was: to bring people together to enjoy one another's company to share happy thoughts. They present themselves as the relatively shy guys you know down the street whose entire wardrobe comes from Kohl's, yet they make an effort to see how you're doing and invite you over for barbecues and other social functions while sticking to their classic Fenders. Honestly, it's as if Be In Love
recognizes that you and your friends have diverging listening tastes, but aspires to find some commonality, some universally-liked characteristic to link you together... which brings me to this:
Keeping Your Hands Busy
: Some of my all-time favorite songs involve making some kind of noise with your hands. For instance, think of the banjo-driven bridge in Porcupine Tree's "Trains" or Violent Femmes' handclap-inducing "Blister in the Sun" or Barenaked Ladies' "Too Little Too Late." I have some inexplicable urge, for whatever reason, to snap and/or clap to musical passages that call for it. I rival this sensation to being at a hockey or baseball game and stomping and clapping to Queen's "We Will Rock You." On Be In Love
, you can expect to do a lot of snapping and clapping to complement your call-and-answer vocals on your way to the beach (just, you know, if you're driving, be a little careful not to drum too hard on the steering wheel and accidentally change lanes).
Be In Love
's intoxicating magnetism is in its sublimely catchy and absolutely contagious instrumentation and easily-relatable lyricism (even if "I feel like I've heard these sentiments before" pops into your head during songs like "Away From Here" and "It Isn't Love"). I absolutely adore the record's simplicity, its omnipresent energy and charisma, and the staying power of many of Be In Love
's songs, despite the album's overall short runtime. Yes, the album isn't groundbreaking by any stretch of the imagination, the mid-tempo cuts like "Away From Here" and "The World Isn't Waiting" are rather boring, and there might be a movement to generally dismiss the record as homogeneous been-there-heard-that, but I contend that Be In Love
's air of familiarity and optimistic outlook make it immensely appealing for the above reasons, coupled with the fact that I could feasibly hear the band say, "So... we got together and wrote some songs about life and stuff, and this is what came out, and we really, really like it, and we really, really hope you do, too. PS: come to our barbecue at the beach this weekend; it will be quality good times because we will probably steal your girlfriends (but just for the day, because we are nice guys and we promise to give them back to you)."
Kennedy describes Locksley - yes, their name is derived from that
Locksley - as the "underdog who does his own thing at all times, and we kinda thought that we could be, you know, a little band for everybody." I'm hard-pressed to find a better quotation to summarize Be In Love
, and it's essential summer listening, regardless if you're by yourself, with a loved one, or many loved ones.
Understandably, and rightfully so, I don't expect any of you to become sudden proselytes. So why do I like the music I like? Because I think it's awesome. And when a record like Be In Love
comes along that I feel an intense personal connection to for a multitude of reasons I elected not to describe here, that's really the only justification I care to provide.
Darling, It's True
Days of Youth
Down for Too Long
* Please note my facetiousness in writing this, but I do love me some easily-relatable power-pop with hand claps and finger snaps...