Brooklyn psychedelic folk rockers Woods are back with their tenth studio album Love is Love. The album was recorded during the two month long post election hangover. Political undertones ring throughout but as the title would suggest this is less of an album borne out of rage and despair but one of defiant optimism. A kind of musical pistol placed in the barrel of a rifle.
The record is largely upbeat with moments of wavering positivity breaking through by means of baleful horns and downtrodden lyricism, growing steadily more ominous as the tracks progress. Chiming in with the catchy title track, ‘Love is Love’ is charged with soothing layered vocals, choppy guitar hooks and balmy horns that make up the band’s signature sound. Lyrics are kept to a minimum, lending the track a meditative quality that will prevail throughout the songs to follow. Continuing on a sanguine note with the equally catchy ‘Bleeding Blue’. Positivity wavers on ‘Lost in a Crowd’ which is characterised by dreamy soundscapes with clouds of despondent lyricism darkening their optimism.
A highlight of the record is the glorious ten minute long hypnotic interlude ‘Spring is in the Air’. If ever there was a band equipped with lulling an audience into a state of escapism, it’s Woods. The track winds and tumbles around its musical landscapes. Twinkling percussion and mesmeric horns entrance. Wah Wah pedal makes use of the nostalgia tool firmly wedged within the band’s back pocket, taking us deeper into our hallucinogenic state. Horns grow more ominous as the track nears an end resuscitating us from our trance. A reminder to keep our wits even in the midst of relentless optimism.
On first listen, Love is Love presents itself as a lesson in escapism in the face of anguish. But a second or third listen reveals a latent sense of realism. Love is Love is a balm for belligerence and a respite from the madness. It’s a record that is hopeful but not blind. It’s also just a great listen.