It’s four in the morning. Six or so people left. Somebody’s got an out-of-tune Epiphone, DR-100, somebody else a spare snare drum. Ivory billows rise out of bongs, tumble from mouths. Copious jamming, impromptu sing-alongs. “We should start a band,” someone says. Everyone echoes this. At sunrise, it’s all but forgotten. Not so with The Memories, who sound as if they recorded the Love is the Law’s lo-fi chill-pop that night, pressed it the next morning, and went on tour that afternoon.
This, of course, isn’t the case. Love is the Law was recorded in hallways and bedrooms between 2010 and 2012, presumably whenever its band members weren’t shrieking across stages as punk collective White Fang. And beneath its rickety appearance, those years of work are evident in the fabric of songs like the rollicking “En Espanol” and “Time”, which evoke the breezier cuts of Velvet Underground’s Nico-era. In fact, the whole record feels indebted to bygone eras. Lyrics about texting and Star Trek sound anachronistic against all the sepia-toned licks and sunny Beach Boy harmonies.
For all its pleasures, though, Love is the Law feels a bit overstuffed at 17 tracks. That said, the album packs a surprising amount of variety if you stick around. In between a string of gauzy strummers you’ll find gems like the Men Without Hats-aping “You Need a Big Man” or “Blow My Mind”, wherein schlubby singer Rikky Gage coos, “It’s not easy being cute and popular.” Wistful instrumental “Cherry”, on the other hand, somehow channels “Last Kiss” levels of teenage melancholy in just over two minutes.
“We want people to hear these songs and remember their exes,” Gage said of the record, “We want people to remember things and smile.” The Memories aren’t plumbing the depths here. They’re conjuring the simple things: a first kiss, a lazy Sunday morning, a group of friends strumming guitars at four in the morning.
Essential Tracks: “You Need a Big Man”, “Time”, “Blow My Mind”.