dinsdag 15 december 2015

Dregs EP. Tuff Love

Now I recently learned a new term in the English language, I'm going to use it too. Tuff Love makes this dreamy ramshackle indie pop music to fall in love with. Double tracked, dreamy vocals are played over music that seems to be played from the outer limits of the band's proficiency, but is so fluent that I just know that is not true.

Dregs is a five song EP by Scottish band Tuff Love. It is the third EP in a row. 'Junk' and 'Dross' preceded Dregs. Together they will be compiled to an album in the winter of 2016 before a true debut album is released in the next fall. Where the concept and a bit of the music remind me of Courtney Barnett, the titles certainly do not. Ms. Barnett favours long-titled albums, Tuff Love prefers just one word. Easy to remember for certain.

Tuff Love is a duo at heart: Julie Eisenstein (guitar, vocals) and Suse Bear (bass, vocals). Together with their live drummer Ian Stewart they take on the world, from the flat of Suse, where all this music was recorded. Lo-fi as it comes, but without a minute being hindered by the DYI. Dregs is not a full arranged record but certainly a full record at heart because of the mix. The voices of Eisenstein and Bear are smeared out over the mix, the instruments divided over the whole sound board. Double tracked or more guitars and voices.

Again I have to mention Veruca Salt. The singing of the ladies comes close in the harmonies. The spike in the lead vocals is missing though. Tuff Love keeps it soft and dreamy, weaving the voices in and out of each other.

Not all songs are that soft and dreamy where the music is concerned. The single 'Duke' that opens the EP testifies to this. The music is more up tempo and live may even be truly exiting. When the bass kicks in for what can be called a short solo, a venue ought to explode. Unless we're all shoegazing of course. A possibility, but 'Duke' is too much fun to be doing that. The delicate ending contrasts in a beautiful way with the polite storm being kicked up before.

Looking at the music I also have to note that Tuff Love does not win the originality price. In the past few years of this blog many a band has come by fronted by women that sound like this. Some play a little more punky other garage rocky and others poppy. It comes close to all that. But then I hear the organ solo ending 'Crocodile' and all is forgiven. So simple yet so endearing. The same goes for the driving, dark guitar line driving 'Threads' forward like clouds before the storm. A little The Cure lifted into the ramshackle indie pop of Tuff Love. The mix with the higher sounding guitar is well arranged. In the background the bass goes through a whole melody of its own as well, while the drummer pounds away (poor Ms. Bear's neighbours).

It all shows that Dregs is a true trio. The bass is just as important as the guitar and certainly when the band takes to the stage, where the instrument has to fill all with the drums between the two of them. A lot is going on on the bass. Like with Cream they all have equal parts to play. That the members of Tuff Love have to learn also is shown in 'Amphibian'. The breaks on the drums are not that fluent, disturbing the flow of the song. This is compensated in the singing and the interlude, where some exquisite details come by.

After 'Carbon' it is all over. The song is slower and knows a modest begin. 'Carbon' shows the softer side of Tuff Love and they get away with it easily. Again the band plays with a few different sounds in the guitar that takes care of the variety within the song. The singing again is so pleasant to listen to.

Dregs shows that with the modest tools available in a living, bed or spare room a band can record an EP that holds all it needs to show to the world how good a band is. Tuff Love has recorded a near perfect EP after which I can only close with stating that I can't wait to hear more.


You can listen to 'Duke' here:


or buy the EP as a 10" from the record company here:


1 opmerking:

  1. We received a comment/compliment from the band on Twitter: "hey thank you this is a rely lovely thoughtful review x"