Hello, happy Halloween, and apologies. Unfortunately, this fortnight will not see an entry by myself (or anyone!), due to personal reasons: I am in the process of moving into my own place, and as you can imagine, the stress just floods in from every corner, unexpectedly, and takes up my entire being. That, and I am unable to get any time off from work, Hell, I'm writing this up at work (naughty, naughty) because I have no internet set up yet, but enough about me. I'd like to take this little break entry also to thank the consistent support and every personal comment I have received initially over the first few months of creating this blog, and well, hey, here's to the future!
Now, go listen to some Glassjaw.
May I open by reminding you, that everything of this world is of opinion. For me, love means faith, compassion, loyalty, time, understanding, commitment, care and ultimately, respect. Tu Amore have slaved away for little over a year in order to get these ideals across to us in the form of audio media, their debut EP, aptly entitled Your Love, the English translation to their mysterious Italian band name.
Recorded in Southampton at the Ranch Production House earlier this year, Your Love is simply a tremendous achievement, which has received great praise across the board, from well established reviewers and the independent circuit; well noted to be an unorthodox, uncanny and unconventional listen.
The record opens with a rush and a push, known as ‘I’m a Mess’ – a strain of vocals, like some erotic final climax (I’ve been reading too much Jonathan Ames as of late), symbolic of catching up to the competition, those already in the business, stressing how everything has been put into ‘it’, this record – where else would the passion come from. The song itself, as I’ve described previously is “an epic, head-first crashing start, backed up by all the fury Thrice possess”. ‘I’m a Mess’ is a firecracker (or ‘Firebreather’, heh) and what’s really noticeable is the bass delivered by Davies in this track. It’s surprising and shocking, but rewardingly good to hear even levels between all four men and their weapons, hence Mackereth’s strain and fight for attention. As my before quoted statement suggests, it is clearly a fantastic opener for what would appear to be a very promising record.
‘I’m a Mess’ is followed on by ‘Bird in a Cage’, perhaps seeping with hidden meaning I am yet to discover within the narrative, or may never even discover, but it graces your ears with a mellow, and slow, sombre blend that oozes patience and craft. Accompanied by an epically beautiful chorus, you hear an acoustic guitar merged subtly into the background letting the band showcase their diversity in sound from the start, (and it works wonderfully too) which truly is rare and an actual delight to hear; they’re not a one-trick pony, essentially. At the end of it all, one is left listening to something eerie: haunting guitar work and a sound clip (which is something else...) which blends exceptionally well into ‘Speranza’; not only does it link to two songs up, but it instantly allows the attempt of building tension and fear up successfully.
‘Speranza’ is a solid track; it supports fantastic riffs that literally are stunning, and guest vocals from Mikey Chapman of the up-and-comers Mallory Knox. The benefit of this is not a simple name drop in an attempt to gain a wider audience, it in fact adds realness to the track, therefore the record and therefore the band. To elaborate, it presents you with a new sense professionalism, influencing ones opinion on the new band that is Tu Amore, but furthermore, it indicates that they are right for this (music), and have slotted in justly. The band have worked so well at adjusting the song to suit Chapman’s voice, for it fits perfectly, and finally the guest vocal spot highlights a sense of community as well – Tu Amore’s second show was supporting Mallory Knox, and after getting on so well, they embarked on a tour together shortly after and have remained close with a firm respect for one another since.
Tipping his hat to inspirer and influence Morrissey, along with the Smiths (Mackereth has ‘How Soon is Now’ tattooed across his chest), Mackereth belts out “I’d rather live in your Hellish world, than alone in mine. I’d rather die with my head held high, than with a torn in my side” in this song, laying tribute (much like Brand New did) to the well known song ‘The Boy with the Thorn in his Side’. Here, he wants to, not necessarily surpass his mentor, but certainly find his own voice through his guidance, remaining in Morrissey’s shadow for at the same time, this line parallels ‘Will Never Marry’: “I will live my life as I will undoubtedly die: alone” (‘Will Never Marry’, Bona Drag, 1990), signifying his detachment and difference.
Moving forwards, ‘Wishing Well’ bounces back to the calm shore with a lovely, subtle intro – stylish and well rehearsed. The track consists of a well educated American rock sound, covering all bases – reminiscent of an early The Republic of Wolves. The beauty, for me, with ‘Wishing Well’ is that it consists of slow, glorious solo-like riffs throughout; Morpeth is a magician. That, and Pickles takes his time with this track which is fantastic to hear; really appreciating his member’s additions; he does not overdo his part and as the drums stand out, they appear to do the exact opposite at the same time. The raw, breakdown styled outro is without a doubt my favourite part of Your Love. It literally screams the angst and passion across to the listener; it is a crashing end, and the spitfire of it all jolts my memory to the ending of Brand New’s ‘Welcome to Bangkok’.
Mackereth as well added, specifically about ‘Wishing Well’, that “the song that best represents the band is ‘Wishing Well’ simply because its [sic] a unity song”. The road ahead for Tu Amore will not be an easy one, but with this song at their disposal, they will be assisted greatly.
The first single that started their domination follows: ‘Joan of Arc’, prized in the middle of the record. This track too excels with beautiful guitar work, where the majority are very Brand New-esque, similar to the solo in ‘Limousine’, as well as when stripping the intro to ‘Joan of Arc’ down, you notice it compiles all the elements to that of ‘Tautou’; a perfect example of what they can be compared to, and a definite compliment to be in the same gene pool. I previously discussed this song in particular and noted it “captivate[s] and finally engulf[s] you as it transcends into [its] thrilling chorus”.
The penultimate song on Your Love, ‘Love with No Limits’ was initially the first song the band ‘put out’ as a demo late last year. This reworked version is now a lot cleaner, sharper, crisper and generally better. Moulded and more defined, it is apparent that the band has truly worked on the track – most interestingly the opening: gloomier, grittier, and less cheesier with the sound clip: it is more distant and quiet too, it no longer annoys you like the demo did. ‘Love with No Limits’ is a characteristically slow track which features double layered vocals like that of Nirvana or the Beatles (I remember once reading how Cobain loved that The Beatles used this technique and wishes to emulate), along with an acoustic guitar brought in, again layering and adding depth. Approaching the end of the record, the song has a very low tempo, slowing down the pace, lowering the heart rate to accept the end and merge beautifully into the final acoustic track, ‘Charcoal’.
Mackereth’s voice was described as "bittersweet" by Bring the Noise in a recent review, and for that I agree, in ‘Charcoal’. We are presented with yet again, with something different, and left with an honest song – turning the table from asking questions and demanding answers (such as “Do you love him?” (‘Speranza’)) or telling ‘you’ face facts and accept change (“You can wear your new tap shoes, that doesn’t mean you'll dance like you used to” (‘Joan of Arc’)), to showing his gentle, delicate side which pulls at your emotions. I stated previously there was a tinge of Bright Eyes melancholy about the track, and that certainly rings true after several through listens, which is most obvious with the chorus: “Embellishing a soft melody over sharply crafted lyrics, which scream of a well attributed infusion with Bright Eyes; a clear influence to the writing style, which is constructed mostly on personal experiences”.
Bring the Noise also stated that ‘Charcoal’ “plucks not only at guitar strings, but on our very own heart strings with a sorrowful plea” – I just can’t see how they came to this conclusion, I’m not saying it is a narrow-minded and quickly formed opinion, but like with Bright Eyes, I don’t see it as a plea, more a compliment of an anecdote to the grim truth; regardless of the ‘bad’, love is ever present, which makes the track even… Nicer, and genuine. Furthermore, Mackereth stated that “life is hard” during a radio interview several months back, and this sums up his ideals perfectly: “Part of it is empathising for other peoples situations though as well as second person points of view, so its [sic] not always personal”. Punktastic took the words right out of my mouth as they concluded that ‘Charcoal’ is “a touching finish to a strong record”.
A friend of mine (positively) criticised the record for having a lack of lyrics; but I see that as a benefit. For example, first off, take ‘Joan of Arc’, which has very few lines to it, but the ones that are there mean something, and they pack a literature-punch. They stick with you, and fill up the over-average timed song. What is written has purpose – I say this in the sense they weren’t created for song use; Mackereth pens beautiful pieces of prose and poetry, which he and his men gel together with music so perfectly, everything becomes enhanced and heightened. The aim here is to get across theories, concepts, stories and wit, and to not to make the music and ideas convoluted and fill up with pointless phrases and, indeed, fillers.
I have also read several other reviews of the record, stating that some songs are too long, to which I also disagree, I find them perfectly timed. Take ‘Bird in a Cage’ for example, it takes a lot of work to make a long song not, for lack of a better word, suck. ‘Love with No Limits’ too is supposed to be long. No part on any song is strung out, elongated for the purpose of filling up time where ultimately, every song is ‘single worthy’, and all are stand alone as they jolt up and down on this record, which Punktastic labelled “peaceful into edgy” and thereafter effortlessly dynamic changes from rage to blues.
Reviews all unite however, in stating the lyrics are “haunting”, honest and glinting with melancholy and despair; Mackereth commented on this opinion, sharing with Already Heard: “It’s never meant to be easy to listen to”.
Tu Amore have not based the record to imitate anyone, to copy anyone else. The first listen is amazing, the second and third, magnificent, and the fourth onwards, when isolated from the world, a work of art: the beauty of hearing all the little tricks that tickle your spine, soothe your goose bumps and squeeze your soul that evolves over time.
Listening to ‘His Name was Arthur Leigh Allen’, which has just came up on my iTunes shuffle, it is easy to see that Tu Amore will be grouped together along with the likes of Survive Atlantica, but that is not a bad thing. People will be quick to judge and say Tu Amore took off as the British predecessors, but I like to think differently. Tu Amore possess the aggression that Survive Atlantica lacked (that titan alternative rock bands in the forefront such as Brand New posses – I’m talking about experiment bends in guitar department; crazy hooks, etc.), and although their lyrics are not as abstract, they work better for an unknown outfit.
I feel many critics and publications are reluctant to give out a flourishing review, or a top-rating, you know, five, ten stars, an ‘A’, a 90% and above; they’ll try to find crack or something to keep a band down, saving the best for the more commercially successful and wider known bands – even then, some would love to stick their teeth in and drag them down!
With a five out of five rating, people may say that this review is bias, but of course it is; I’m fully aware of the dedication and hard work that was put into creating such a masterpiece, and that alone deserves the attention of every label across the UK, along with my measly review. This record is one I will gloriously treasure, and find myself indulging with time and time again; I enjoy it whole-heartedly and greatly. Not only is this my favourite style of music, so it ‘hits the spot’ perfectly, it humbles me and makes me so proud to call these four gentlemen my friends. Disregard my review and words if you must, for Tu Amore do not deserve infamy on any level, they deserve your respect.