The Lineup

The Love Language - Old

Chapel Hill, NC


Just a few years ago, Stuart McLamb was going through a bit of a rough patch, even by musicians’ standards. After one drunken evening lead to his dismissal from his band, the string of many more that followed found McLamb, girlfriendless, spending a night in jail and eventually moving back in with his parents. The batch of songs inspired by that binge of self-destruction—nine tracks recorded and mixed with junky equipment in bedrooms, garages and even a public library—quickly built a buzz for McLamb’s new project, which he dubbed The Love Language.


Pitchfork, Spin and Rolling Stone were all enamored by The Love Language and its deceivingly buoyant soul-pop jangle. So was indie heavyweight Merge Records, which signed the band late last year and will release Libraries this summer. The follow-up disc—again, largely played by McLamb—was recorded in a proper studio environment with a legitimate producer, but the lo-fi charm of the debut survives mostly intact, with splendid guitars and red-lining vocals emerging from the hazy clatter. The arrangements—already requiring a big band to recreate before—are even bigger now, using string arrangements to create a lush, orchestral expanse. It seems as if McLamb’s personal life may have turned a corner too: Libraries mixes in songs about being in love with all those battered-heart tunes. 


This period wasn’t without its casualties, either—the band is now trimmed down to a lean five-piece after several departures and replacements—but McLamb’s instant melodies, weary howls, and intimate sentiments are still the heart of The Love Language. Let’s just hope his heart doesn’t need to keep breaking for him to spill his guts on tape, especially if the aftermath is this enjoyable for the rest of us. —Spencer Griffith