New album Resort is unassuming but compelling. Dazzling but effortless. Tuff Love’s brand of guitar pop just keeps getting better. I’ve said it once – and I’m sure I’ll say it again in 2016 – Tuff Love are a band that is easy to fall in love with.
If you’ve already been seduced by Tuff Love’s fuzzy indie pop, you probably own the three EPs they released between 2012 and the end of 2015. If so, you can stop reading this review. Go and listen to those EPs back to back and congratulate yourself on having great musical taste. Everyone else please read on.
2015 was a packed year for this Glaswegian duoof Julie Eisenstein (guitar, vocals) and Suse Bear (bass, vocals) with tours of the UK and mainland Europe and a host of summer festival slots now in the bag. ‘Resort’ brings together Tuff Love’s three self-engineered and self-produced EPs from the past three years – ‘Junk’, ‘Dross’ (both now unavailable) and ‘Dregs’ – into one album. Ordered chronologically, the fifteen tracks reflect the progression of a band that have grown in confidence as they have developed their summery indie sound.
‘Sweet Discontent’ lulls you into a false sense of dream-pop security with a delicate first verse before the grungy guitar kicks in and you realise that this is a band you have to dance around to. In fact, there is so much about listening to this album that reminds me of dancing around in my bedroom as a teenager. It has all the hallmarks of the great 90s indie bands whilst retaining what makes Tuff Love unique – the combination of jangling guitar, a prominent bassline and honey dripped vocals that melt into the music. From ‘Flamingo’ through to ‘Penguin’ the guitar buzzes and the harmonies captivate. You can understand why their debut EP, ‘Junk’, gained the acclaim that it did.
‘Slammer’ heralds the start of the tracks from ‘Dross’ and has a deliciously hurried sound. It feels like Eisenstein’s vocals are rushing to catch up with Bear’s bass. The sweetly-sung declaration of “I’ve got rage” goes hand in hand with crashingdrums and this track feels like a big leap forward. ‘That’s Right’ is pogo-inducing scuzzy punk rock while ‘Sebastian’ is a blissed out summer anthem. ‘Doberman’ is a stand out track for me with its bouncing bassline and guitar riff. ‘Cum’ mentally sends me back into my teenage bedroom to nurse a broken heart with the mournful declaration of “it could have been us”.
‘Duke’ is the first track from recently released EP ‘Dregs’ and demonstrates a slightly more sophisticated sound. The duo haven’t lost any oftheir distinctive qualities but have built upon themto create a more layered feel. They even manage to dip their toes into shoegaze waters on this and subsequent tracks. The keyboard outro of ‘Crocodile’ shows an interest in adding more elements to their sound. ‘Threads’ is Smiths-esque but also shows similarities with Welsh indie-punks Joanna Gruesome.
‘Carbon’ closes the album and, appropriately, feels like Tuff Love at their most accomplished. The dreamy vocals and swaying and swirling melody is reminiscent of R.E.M. and hints at so much more to come.
Unassuming but compelling. Dazzling but effortless. Tuff Love’s brand of guitar pop just keeps getting better. I’ve said it once – and I’m sure I’ll say it again in 2016 – Tuff Love are a band that is easy to fall in love with.
‘Resort’ is due for release on 29 January via Lost Map.