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The Love Language: Libraries

B

The Love Language

Album: Libraries
Label: Merge

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Last year’s debut album by North Carolina’s The Love Language assembled lo-fi home recordings by singer-songwriter Stuart McLamb, who seemed determined to make his version of lushly orchestrated ’60s-style heartbreak-pop even though he lacked the skill, the studio space, or the voice for it. McLamb’s second Love Language album, Libraries, was recorded with the help of producer/engineer B.J. Burton, who moves The Love Language sound much, much closer to what the first album was meant to be. Songs like “Brittany’s Back”—with it’s the Mamas & The Papas guitar jangle, booming percussion, and squiggly organ—use sonic depth and instrumental filigree to make mundane romantic experiences feel richer than they actually are, the way they do to the people going through them. McLamb’s voice is still too nasal and uncontrolled at times, and though Burton’s production is lively throughout, some of Libraries’ 10 songs are just too blah to gussy up much. But when McLamb rips into a stinging guitar solo in the clap-happy “Heart To Tell,” or Burton brings a celestial choir up over the coda of “This Blood Is Our Own,” the songs fairly pulse with the joy and ache of everyday living.