Love Language with Local Natives and The Union Line
8 p.m. Tuesday
ACM@UCO Performance Lab
323 E. Sheridan
You can’t recreate the past. No matter how beautiful a moment is, attempts to recapture time are doomed to fail.
This was the lesson for Stuart McLamb, whose act’s eponymous 2009 debut sparked significant underground buzz and earned him a Merge Records deal.
Although it’s easy to understand the impulse, he wasn’t trying to replicate the effort with this summer’s second album, “Libraries.” Indeed, it would be particularly difficult given how the debut was forged in the immediate aftermath of a painful breakup that deeply informed the music and lyrics.
“Should I feel like I need to get myself into a psychological and emotional place similar to when I made that record to make a ‘good’ album, or do you just remember the beauty in that thing which happened naturally?” McLamb said. “I didn’t want to make ‘Libraries’ sound like the first. It’s all about trying new processes. You have to move forward. ‘Love Language’ is the first thing ” and that will never be done again ” but I can keep exploring and maybe fall into another thing that could be more beautiful.”
While he didn’t set out to make the same album, there are a lot of similarities between the two. He said he was careful not to fall into the trap of some bands whose sophomore effort tries to attempt too much of a 180-degree sonic turn.
Both records are fueled by pretty, majestic tunes inspired by ’60s Brill Building pop and Motown, aspiring to the kind of epic sweep forged most famously by producer Phil Spector.
Both also are suffused with melancholy and wistful longing. The biggest difference may be in the production. Whereas his first album was written, performed and recorded entirely on his own, for ‘Libraries,’ McLamb had a budget, a real studio and a producer who helped him forge a crisper, bigger sound. Not that McLamb didn’t miss the lo-fi sound of his debut and its old, AM-radio feel.
“I was very much attached to that sound and probably exhausting (producer BJ Burton) with how much I’d bring that up, like, ‘I really want you to understand what I’m going for with this,'” he said. “I was trying to imitate Brill Building recordings and that scratchy ’60s sound, which is very hard to reproduce, because modern technology gets in the way sometimes.”
Over time, they were able to approximate some of the elements of that tone, and as a result, ‘Libraries’ comes close to the old-time spirit of ‘Love Language,’ echoing the retro fascinations of present day bands like Girls, Magic Kids and The Mynabirds.
The jangly “Heart to Tell” bounces along to handclaps and a swinging melody worthy of Bobby Darin, while “Brittany’s Back” has a smoky build like The Hollies’ “Long Cool Woman (in a Black Dress),” driven by a spooky, insistent organ-line and Spanish-flavored acoustic riff. It may lack some of the emotional urgency of the debut, but it’s just as thick in hooks and heartbreak.
“There was very much real emotion going on in those songs as well, if not even more than some songs on that first record,” McLamb said. “I’m definitely interested in trying to stretch that box as far as I can.”
One change will be increased input from the group he’s assembled. While the last disc was pretty much just McLamb, the front man has spent several months building a great chemistry with his four bandmates, now including Burton. McLamb describes himself as “invested” in this unit, and he’s excited about it.
“I definitely think the next record will be a live band. I’m officially burned out on this (solo) process,” he said. “Chris Parker