Friday, February 10, 2012

The Love Me Nots - The Demon and the Devotee

Since I first discovered the Love Me Nots back in 2007 after being blown away by seeing them live and picking up their debut disc, they are apparently up to disc number 4 and I somehow have not gotten any between their initial blast and this, their latest. I will have to rectify that!

The Demon and the Devotee is a bit slicker and more modern than In Black and White, but still retaining their organ-driven garage roots. Nicole continues to be sultry and snarly and guitarist Michael Johnny Walker has only gotten better with his fuzz licks. Monster drummer Jay Lien left for a while but is back with a vengeance and while this disc has Kyle Stokes on bass, she has already been replaced by Sophie O. So, obviously, the mainstays here are husband and wife couple Nicole & Michael.

Openers “The End of the Line” & “I’m Gonna Be Your Girl” are as garage as they come, with the latter even reminding me a little of LA’s fabulous Untold Fables (with female vocals, of course). “Demons”, though, takes on a whole different style, sounding much more 80’s new-wave than garage, with the keys taking on an almost synth quality (though I’m certain it is Nicole’s Farfisa). This still has 60’s elements, of course, and is a rockin’ tune, just an unusual production for this group.

Continuing (sorta/kinda) in this vein is “She’s Nothing Like Me”, an almost dreamy ballad, at least in comparison to the rest of the set. But, the guitars come back with a vengeance in the sassy and vicious “I’m Not Okay”, that moves into “Cheap Knockoff”, sounding like an odd mix of the Doors and Gary Newman! It does somehow work, but is a bit bizarre. “Make Up Your Mind” backs up right back into the garage, though – groovin’, drivin’ keys, cool, trashy (in the best sense of the word) guitar lines and catchy chorus – very hip!

This is followed by a stompin’ “He Doesn’t Share Well”, which stands up to the group’s best. “Trouble” is a psychedelic ballad with a trumpet (!!) solo that gives it a weird Mariachi feel for a minute and “Stay” combines a bit of a ska beat in the verses with a super-strong, shout-along chorus and a biting guitar solo. “Let’s Get Wrecked” is a great theme and moves along at a steady pace, but doesn’t quite have the abandon that some of their tunes do. The closer is “The Girl Lights Up”, a folky pop number led by a neat 12-string (or reasonable facsimile) guitar lick.

The Love Me Nots are unmistakenly attempting to expand their sound and work in different styles, for which they should be applauded – no band should stagnate. Everything works on this record, but the changes do mean that The Demon and the Devotee is not as explosive as their debut. But, still a solid effort and I will look into their other releases and see what they have been exploring over the years. And, regardless, they are still a phenomenal live experience!