May 25, 2014
There's a 2-part abstraction at play here, one inevitable (sound), and one contrived. Because its form is vibration and its style is haze, it inevitably attacks its corresponding sense and then chooses to grab both head and heart, mush them together, and hurl them back in a sort of bombardment further fucked up by its self-conscious rendering of everything as very stoned and/or distant. If we give it/him/Love the benefit of the doubt, this stylistic vagueness aids in universalising the album's theme. It becomes direct and simple and so visceral- if we're made to feel anything while hearing it, it's our pain and/or happiness being felt and whether McMahon feels the same hardly matters at all. This stylistic death of author turns singer-songwriter autobio bs on its head and actually works if we believe in McMahon (Love's) generosity, but it's so obvious that if it fails in its task and we're made to feel nothing, we're supposed to blame it on the smog and not him or his songs. However stoned/distant/hazy, it's initially difficult to let Love float by unnoticed and this is largely thanks to McMahon's vocalisms. Like the music, it's not the details (words) that matter, but the delivery. And as is the case with the music, the delivery actively obscures the details. The reference point for this method is Astral Weeks, and as with Astral Weeks it's hard not to believe that he's beaten, bruised, and is expressing something genuine. The difference is that on Love, he's gone, vanished, and it's just us, the audience, left. Whether we leave feeling heavier (as we should) again comes down to smog- we could potentially just feel more confused, which without that feeling of heaviness means Love falls short- a formal study in smog and not the emotion at all. I sort of felt it but learned nothing- either it lost me, or I lost it. Unfortunately the intention is there but the work is not. And if that's the point I'm glad to let it go.
Posted by max