Review Summary: Difficult decision: Whether to enjoy Love American’s EP merely in its present state, or to revel in all the potential that’s so obviously spilling out from every which way of the band’s debut.
For us optimists, potential is a wonderful thing. So wonderful, in some cases, that the mere idea of a brighter tomorrow and the build-up leading to it, can be just as satisfying as actual said bright day. Think about it: weren’t those weeks leading up to that awesome Spring Break two years ago just
as satisfying as the actual break itself? Love American is similar to my Spring Break ’09 in that, more than anything, it’s an amazing coagulation of potential. Newcomers to the Southern California scene, Love American are a conglomeration of everything you love about screamo and post-hardcore. There’s nothing a band can do sexier than picking the perfect influences for their sound, and Love American displays the Californians’ knack for this. They list Hot Cross, Thursday, and Pianos Become the Teeth as their influences, but I’ll be damned if I don’t hear a little Suis La Lune-style foreign screamo or 90’s Jawbox-esque post-hardcore thrown in the mix. Please excuse the superfluous name-dropping, but it provides a nice segway to the point that Love American’s ever-present influences are just as much a strength as they are a weakness. Nevertheless, Love American
is a surprisingly solid debut from a band overflowing with the potential to release something truly spectacular.
At a mere six songs, Love American needed to use their time wisely on their self-titled EP. Thankfully, they do just that as Love American
is a fairly balanced act. Its more compelling points lie at the beginning and end, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a let-up in energy throughout the uptempo affair. “Keep The Wes Dream Alive,” a monument to the band’s knack for virtuoso songwriting, displays their ability to noodle between drastically different moods and tempos while remaining fluid. In doing so, pinning down Love American to a specific genre is a no-go, with their array of influences showing so blatantly. Still, while it never quite reaches the grating point of “derivative,” as I’m happy to say, I can’t help but wish Love American had made this sound their own
a tad more-- something that seems perfectly within reach should they expand to an LP format.
If there’s one noteworthy aspect throughout, it’s the consistency of the ragged, roaring vocals. Performed by Javier Ramirez, the screaming is a tour de force, unrelenting and fervent. One thing I found intriguing about them is Ramirez’s clarity to complement the raggedness in his screaming, a trait too often lacking in most modern screamo. “Then/Than” displays Ramirez ceasing momentarily, only to share the stage with Natalie Diaz, of Modern American Theatre
, to provide an unexpected female presence to the EP’s catchiest track. The six songs at hand have enough striking, singular moments to impress again and again (that riff in “Where's My Cash, Johnny?” needs a shoutout some
where in this review), but I’m hesitant to proclaim that Love American have done a truly outstanding job at owning this sound they’ve carved out for themselves; rather than, say, “Yeah, Love American does a fantastic job of blending Band A and Band B there.” Still, it’s imperative we return to this notion of potential.
Why shouldn’t we, though?... Love American
is practically bursting at the seams with excitement. Evidenced by some of the less-than-adequate mixing, the band isn’t quite putting their best work possible forward, here. Given some time to simmer and grow in all the right places, there will be (hopefully) nothing stopping Love American from creating the sophomore album they’re capable of. We’re given glimpses of it (namely on the penultimate track, “Legendary Birds,” and to a lesser degree, the closer), but this isn’t it.
It’s heartening to know that the band’s difficulties and struggles here are situational-- an LP would have allotted more time to solidify their
sound, better equipment would have allowed for fancier mixing. More outstanding than the small cracks in the pavement, though, are the reasons to be excited-- dynamic, fluid songwriting; fervent, impassioned vocals; and an instrumental section that can keep up with ease. Mark my words: be it just a buildup, Love American
sounds like the buildup to something exciting, something we’ll be able to point to 3 years down the road and say, “That was great, but they’ve come so far...” For now though, Love American
is an EP sufficient enough to let us revel in the present Love American, as well as look forward with eagerness to what Love American lies in the future-- more than a little like anticipating Spring break ’09, right?