The Love Language is Raleigh, N.C. singer/songwriter Stuart McLamb’s baby. Over two album he’s proven to be a master of the emotional lo fi pop nugget. His first album as The Love Language was a bedroom affair, recorded like a true DIY indie rock soldier. It was rough but showed much promise. Then came 2010s Libraries and the lo fi aesthetic was bumped up a few notches to a shiny Brill Building-esque pop masterpiece. It was somewhere between The Walkmen and The Raspberries, with Camera Obscura hanging out in the back room for some good old-fashioned maudlin tendencies.
Now, nearly three years since Libraries was released, McLamb is readying a new Love Language album called Ruby Red, and if lead track “Calm Down” is any indication, it’s gonna be a doozy of a record. This track instantly sounds different. It’s no longer got the sound of a heartbroken guy recording sad pop nuggets in his bedroom late at night. It’s a big, fast, chest-thumping anthem. If I had to compare this song to someone else, I’d say McLamb’s been listening to Here We Go Magic’s Pigeons. In particular, the driving rhythm and pulsating bass remind me of the excellent track “The Collector”. That’s not to say The Love Language are getting all Krautrock and Motorik beat on us here. “Calm Down” still retains The Love Language’s knack for pop grandeur and emotional release, it’s just more grandeur and a hell of a lot more release. The last third of the track in particular is stunning. I love moments in songs where the music just keeps driving forward, no fussing about some perfectly timed end. It goes and carries you with it. That’s what this track does. It’s big and messy and beautiful.
If you’ve never heard Libraries or their self-titled debut, you should check them out immediately. And be sure to check out “Calm Down”. Ruby Red is coming July 23rd on Merge.