The Love Language: Ruby Red (Merge) album review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine

The Love Language

Ruby Red

Merge

Aug 01, 2013 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Anyone who has been in couples therapy probably knows the idea behind "the five love languages"—an idea that each person interprets love in different ways, and those can be broken down into fundamental languages. It's a way of understanding another person's emotions by acknowledging that they respond to actions and words differently than you do, which can be a difficult mental leap for even the most well-intentioned human beings.

Perhaps the psychology association with the term has triggered a similar response to the third album from a band (the project of Stuart McLamb) who shares its moniker with a theory emphasizing the variances in personal human communication, but Ruby Red has something different to offer depending on who is listening. It can elicit a different experience depending on the setting. It's a contradictory but complete sound, taking extremes of the emotional spectrum and mashing them together.

On first listen, Ruby Red is explosive, raucous, and exciting. Repeated listening reveals different textures, more nuanced emotions, softer tones. Even the album cover, a muted black and blue, contradicts the title, Ruby Red. "Calm Down" kicks off the album with a thumping drumbeat and thrashing guitar chords, tempered by echo-y effects and pulling into an anxious chorus while never letting go of its insistent drum pounding. "Hi Life" drops sexy guitar chords into a pool of lush orchestration, horns, and bells. "For Izzy" sounds like a haunting western ballad, with a whistling melody that says more than the understated lyrics. The production is pristine and clear, with a carefully balanced mix that neither emphasizes nor hides any of the album's rich layers. Songs build, draw out into blistering jams, fill up spaces with sonic earthquakes, and yet they remain emotionally grounded in a soothing affirmation of lonely defiance.

For a band that started life as a whimsical retreat into heartbreak, The Love Language has matured into a tepid reflection on acceptance. Ruby Red's closer, "Pilot Light," hints at finally understanding complex themes and perhaps coming to terms with finality. It is a satisfying resolution, but one that is always open to another interpretation. (www.thelovelanguage.com)

 

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10



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