LOVEYOU – Sparkle & Crush (2016)

love youLos Angeles-based Andrew Stogel, frontman and main songwriter for the band Dreamer Dose, has risen like a phoenix from the flames after having endured a “personal and painful time” as expressed by the band’s press agent to produce a moving debut album under a new band name. They are now known as LOVEYOU and the 5-piece band bare their souls in Sparkle & Crush. When asked about Sparkle & Crush, Stogel elaborated saying, “At the time of recording this album I felt that my music and how I could affect myself and others with it was a defining force that reanimated me in the face of some personal tragedies. I’m hoping it might have a positive impact on someone.”

Now for my review.

The opening song, ‘I Want To (Make You Feel Happiness)’ is extremely accessible to me as it has that kind of ‘vibe’ – please excuse this hippy-like parlance but when you hear it I think you’ll know what I mean. It has an amazing feel and I love the kind of euphoria that emanates from this track.

The chords played on the one guitar provide great, snappy chops which are rhythmical and nicely meter the song’s pace, while the other guitar plays dissonant chords reflecting a sadder melancholy, which is maybe a sign that Stogel has not yet overcome his grief. This is countered by the organ which plays sustained chords providing a more positive psychedelic ambience.

The piano is the more dominate instrument in ‘Awake At Last’ and I love the vox-backing harmonies provided by Stogel which have a heavenly chorus effect. Later in the track, the song is punctuated by some heavy guitar chords and beautiful electronic noise leading to some wonderful synthesiser work. Stogel’s voice reminds me of a cross between Tim Burgess and Dan Wilson from Semisonic, portraying the laid back nature of the song. It reminds me of something that the ambient band Zero 7 would produce.

‘Feel Like Me’ smacks of Oasis even down to the Liam Gallagher cum Tim Burgess-influenced voice and, of course, the ‘Strawberry Fields’-inspired Mellotron featuring heavily in the mix. This is an anthem I can imagine going down really well at one of the band’s shows!

‘Outed the Time’ sounds a little like New Order in the verses. I think after closer listening, I might be able to decipher what Stogel is singing; but if I am being honest, musically speaking, it is a bit of a drone that doesn’t exactly inspire me. Sorry lads, this track’s not my cup of tea. I do, however, love the drumming. A great feel and some lovely snare rolls with a nice little shuffle towards the fade out.

Emotions get heavier and somewhat darker in ‘Your Love Is’. The guitars wail in the background and I love their sound, almost like whales in the ocean calling out to each other. The guitars contribute exceptionally well to the songs atmosphere. The drums are electronic on this track which gives it more of an 80s feel, a style which seems to be coming back in terms of music production, certainly more in mainstream pop.

Right from the start the guitar riff propels the song ‘You In The Void’ into hyper-drive with its infectious electronic sound. This is really exciting stuff. In the first instrumental section, I love the rhythm guitar playing the sustained chords; there are all sorts of effects going on here. I suspect there is a lot of reverb, some wah-wah and chorus to name a few. The sound of the guitars keep me hanging in the clouds in auditory ecstasy! I can’t even think of a song or a band that this track is inspired by. Maybe you can. I think this song is my favourite from the album.

A curiously titled song, ‘Strawberry Cough’, has a vocal melody that in places reminds me of a Semisonic song from their album, Feeling Strangely Fine. The guitar work throughout the whole of the album is excellent and guitarist Dakota Floeter is both original and inventive.

The album’s closer, ‘Fuzzy Logic’, is perhaps the most indie sounding track on this album. The vocals are a little flat which adds nicely to the kind of strung out feel of the song. I’m sure this is deliberate. The guitars here, again, are great. The rhythms on this particular track are simple and effective serving the song’s aforementioned style. I could hear what Stogel meant when he said he wanted to make a record that has a positive effect on someone despite having suffered his own personal tragedies – what a great philosophy and positive motivation. I feel that this song must have been particularly cathartic to write and record.

To conclude, I loved this debut album. Great songs, sung from the heart and with original sounding musicians delivering the goods. I genuinely feel the mp3 format does not do the album justice and would love to hear it in a CD or Vinyl format. Hope you feel a bit better after bearing your soul Andrew. It certainly wasn’t wasted on me. Well done.

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