"Pop as fuck!" That is how Regina eight piece Library Voices describes their music, and their debut full length Denim on Denim exemplifies that. Even though it is full of gang vocals, and more instruments than some acts have in their entire library of music, they never step on each others toes, creating an incredibly rich and vibrant sound. And even though there are more than a couple references to the apocalypse, the whole album is just fun and energetic.
"Drinking Games" kicks off the album, starting out very quiet and subdued, but adds instruments one by one until the whole thing erupts into something impossible not to sing along to. The energy is kept up with the insanely infectious "Insider Trading (On Outsider Art)" and "Haunt This House", both of which overflowing with hooks that will get anyone moving. "Party Like It's 2012" is one of the more obviously apocalyptic on the album, with them urging us to "Do the oblivion shuffle / Do the redemption twist / Do the salvation shimmy" and proclaiming "we'll party like it's 2012 / like they'll be no morning after [...] let's hear it for the rapture!" Another prominent theme on the album is literature, and "Write Me a Myth" is one of the better examples of that.
Mark Hamilton (of Woodpigeon) guests on vocals for the next two tracks, "Bookish", a twist on the age old tale of falling in love with the cute shy girl and another not-quite-love-song "Bodies of Fiction" which is "just another song about love" with a "nameless narrator" that "starts with 'I' and ends with 'we'". They bring the tone down for a moment, with "Model City", whose beauty shows that they can do more than just the energetic pop songs. "End Time" seems like another upbeat song about embracing the end of the world, but when they tell you "but you can live your life fearing death / ... or you can just get on with it" you believe them. But then "Family Night" turns around and warns that the perfect life may not be so perfect -- it's interesting when the song about family life is the darkest on an album full of apocalyptic songs. The anxiety is played up when the end adds layers upon layers of vocals which gets so close to overwhelms the listener, before grinding to a halt and almost stopping dead. The slow end leads into "Balloon Menagerie", another soft and somewhat nervous song, thematically, which features scratch and distortion. The album wraps up "Hello Cruel World", an interesting choice for a closing track. Again, the upbeat track belies the somewhat ominous lyrics, starting with a near-death experience (or perhaps not-so-near?) and coming to a close with the lyrics "Sometimes a man just needs to get away / or think he got away..." and then drawing to an end with the sound of footsteps walking away. It definitely gives a sense of finality to the album.
The other thing about the album that struck me was the packaging/artwork. It is not anything too fancy or elaborate, but it has some nice touches, like the lightning bolt cut out to show the denim-sleeve, or the mini-poster that comes with in. In fact, instead of me describing it, just take a look for yourself. And since the artwork was just this morning nominated for a West Coast Music Award (as well as the album itself, for Independent Album of the Year) I know I'm not the only one to notice it.
No doubt Denim on Denim will remain one of the most fun albums of the year. Catchy hooks. Energetic songs. Clever lyrics. Pop as fuck indeed.
Download Party Like It's 2012
Download Family Night