When you first glance at the album title, It sounds like the sort of vacant slogan you’d associate with a boyband, or perhaps a song from Bublé’s back-catalogue. Fortunately for Wood’s fans the sceptical speculations of this reviewer couldn’t be further from reality.
It’s not an album of mawkish ballads, nor is it purely an angst-ridden lament over a lost lover. Lyrically the main drive of the songs is pondering the concept of love; what it is, and if it’s even possible. This becomes apparent in the title track of the album that always returns to the question ‘they say that love is love…how does it feel?’ And, going further with the final song on the record, Woods’ ask ‘how can we love if this won’t go away? how can we love with this kind of hate?’ Whilst opaque, it suggests a contemplative mind-set to the album, and carries on the lyrical accomplishment we’ve come to expect from Woods.
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From a band that is known for taking an eclectic approach to composing music; dipping into various genres from blues to psychedelia, folk to indie, this album is no different. It’s a smorgasbord of styles, influences and tones. The record kicks off with the eponymous single, a scintillating indie-pop track carrying on seamlessly from where City Sun Eater in the River of Light left off. Frenetic guitars dancing over a wandering bassline makes for an unbelievably catchy melody that you can’t help moving your feet to. The next two songs are equally progressive when paralleled with Woods previous album. Bleeding blue has an anthemic quality, further utilising the horn section they’ve previously applied to great effect, lending a regal feel to the song. It’s followed by Lost in a Crowd, a touchingly arranged atmospheric offering which has a dream-like quality to it, and is without doubt the emotional high-point of the album.
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After this emotionally unguarded, touching moment the album takes an unexpected turn. Woods’ deviate and swerve away from familiar territory into a musical realm that they’ve not previously inhabited. Demonstrated on Spring is in the Air – an instrumental, that’s almost 10 minutes long. It’s by far the most unanticipated song on the album, with a rolling drumbeat and a lamenting horn section underpinned by a pulsating undulating static frequency. At times it sounds like a strange, melancholic Riders on the Storm, at others a fusion of the Far East & Psychedelia. Hit that Drum follows directly after, and could merge quite easily into the former, they have a similar undulating electric undertone, but where they differ is that on Hit That Drum they’ve coupled it with a cacophony of reverb that combine for moments of searing intensity.
Despite it being their 8th official album, it’s only the third to be produced in a studio, and the expansive sound shows they’re fully realising the opportunities this set up affords them. With this latest offering, it sounds like Woods’ have sat down at the production board and stretched out their fingertips to see what new discoveries they can make. Although, in some ways it’s a progression from the last album, parts of it are much more expansive & experimental, which only goes to show that despite them getting close to 10 albums, this is a band that refuses to be typecast or labelled, and most importantly still has a lot to offer.
Love is Love is out on April 21 via Woodsist.