It’s difficult to tell if the Lovemakers’ second full-length album, Let’s Be Friends, is a toxically vapid, embarrassingly sugary power pop record displaying the emotional maturity of a twelve year old, or if it is merely a winking parody of such insipidness. Either way, I know I don’t want to listen to it anymore.
Perhaps encouraged by the relative success of retro-fueled acts like the Pipettes, the Lovemakers seem to be attempting a similar sort of revival, substituting the ‘60s girl-group sound the Pipettes favor for an unabashed run through the most overtly cutesy moments arena-rock and power-pop have to offer. Unfortunately, for the Lovemakers, “old” doesn’t mean “timeless,” and the material they have chosen to resurrect might have fared better left in the fridge. We get a Joan Jett knockoff (“See What I Wanna See”), an idea that works just as well here as it did for Weezer, which is to say, not at all. There’s also some mid-tempo ‘80s indebted schmaltz (“Hold On To Your Heart”), and a surprising amount of songs aiming for new wave and wind up dangerously close to Hillary Duff territory (“Love Is Dead,” “Where Did You Go,” “Wanna Go Back”).
But we’ll return to the music later, since any review of Let’s Be Friends demands the inclusion of a thorough scolding for the lyrical content. At their best, the lyrics are ignorable, and are shockingly childish at their worst. Again, maybe this is somehow satirical, a misguided attempt at assuming juvenile dialect in order to make these silly sentiments sound more authentic. Even if that is the case, it doesn’t make listening to lines like “Our kids will hate what we’ve become/ Let’s fall in love/ It sounds so fun,” any less excruciating.
“…So fun?” Really? I’m aware lyricists take some grammatical license to make phrases fit in a more cadent fashion, but come on; I’ve seen pictures of your band. If you can figure out how to tie a tie, there’s no excuse for such a slack poetic effort. Miley Cyrus can get away with shilling that dross, but she’s, you know, soul-dead and brainless (to pick on a shamefully easy target).
If it seems like I’m nit-picking over one inconsequential line, I assure you that example is one terrible lyric in a song full of them, which is one song in an album full of terrible lyrics. Apparently, the Lovemakers’ primary members Scott Blonde (definitely not his name) and Lisa Light (more reasonable, but probably not her name either) used to be in love, but are now merely good friends. This fact supposedly informs the album’s title and a few of the songs, but Blonde and Light (what a strange thing to type) rarely get more personal than “Let’s be friends!…We’ll stay in touch…To the end!” Those ellipses are meant to connote the seemingly endless vocal pauses between the respective lyrics during which you, as the listener, have plenty of time to think “There’s no way they’re going to rhyme ‘let’s be friends’ with ‘to the end.’ Surely, even the Lovemakers have more taste than that.” Sadly, they don’t.
If there is a true low point on Let’s Be Friends, and this may be entirely a byproduct of my personal taste, it is “This Life Is Over.” If such a thing were realistically within my control, I would happily go the rest of my life without hearing another self-indulgent, mawkishly nostalgic ballad lamenting the passing of one’s teenage years, even if it was done right, and “This Life Is Over” is most assuredly not done right. The perfunctory list of memories the Lovemakers assemble is as trite as can be. Seriously, I would like to know if anyone actually spent their teenage years doing any of the following things enumerated in “This Life Is Over”:
1. Smoking in back alleys - Smoking? Sure. Back alleys? I doubt it, mainly because it’s cheap imagery.
2. Knocking at someone’s window - Bullshit. Saved By the Bell-inspired bullshit.
3. Walking through the graveyard - Sure, I’ve seen it in movies, but I’ve never even heard of anyone actually doing this in reality.
4. Stealing cars and flowers – What? No. Next.
5. Chasing girls for hours - Yes, this is the rhyme for the previous line. For hours, though? Hours?
It doesn’t much matter if the Lovemakers actually experienced these moments or are taking some biographical liberties. Hackneyed lyrics are hackneyed lyrics, accurate or not. Okay, I’ve had my fun. I’m done with this song.
This album will certainly have its defenders. Let’s Be Friends is clearly the exact album Lovemakers intended to make, and while that may strike me as inexplicable, there’s something to be said for their clarity of purpose, no matter how ill-advised. So kudos to the Lovemakers on that front, I guess. Here’s hoping they can attach that lucidity to something with a little more to say next time out.