Lovetron – All Across the Grand Charade

Lovetron
All Across the Grand Charade

In my books, originality will get you big-time bonus points, and Lovetron is nothing if not original. Defining this band is nearly impossible, although it is possible to track their influences and cite the various genres the band fuses together on their debut, All Across the Grand Charade. The music here seems to be an odd – and original – amalgamation of indie-pop, electronica, 60s psychedelica, and 70s soul/funk. Now imagine that, will you?
It’s tough to describe, and the songs change up just enough to have you scratching your head while not so much as to seem jarring. The vocals are extremely smooth, a tad high-pitched and mixed in nicely to the music. The guitars are fantastic, warbling away one minute, jamming on a funk groove the next, while the rhythm keeps up whatever genre is currently the focus. The rhythm keeps up just fine, and the band throws in assorted keyboards and electronic sounds to really spice things up. And somehow, in all that, they manage to keep the songs catchy, toe-tapping, and fun. You can even dance to this stuff.
70s soul and modern electronica merge effortlessly on the ultra-slick “River,” to start off the album, although it’s the soul that takes center stage. It’s followed by the much more slow-tempo psych-pop of the pretty “Alethea Park,” and then the funky-pop sounds of “You Shook Me,” perhaps the best song on the album, as the singer sings, “because she’s sick and she’s shy and she’s willing to die / she’ll drink your blood just like it’s lemonade” and make it sound fun. With “On the Freakdown,” Lovetron shows they can play soulful funk with the best of them; unfortunately, funk has been played out, and it’s only through the insanely catchy chorus with Jackson Five-style vocals that the band keeps the song enjoyable.
Finally, by “Hanging at the Heels,” the band allows their more modern, electronic touches to take the lead, driving a sultry number filled with effect-laden guitars and assorted keyboard bleeps and pulses. They toss in an almost seven-minute “Pedestrian Routine,” which ambles along with some wacka-wacka guitar and some stellar rhythm before dissolving around the five-minute mark and building back into a mellow pop song. “Over Our Heads” kinda rocks in a 70s garage-rock style, with a heavy dose of leading keyboards, and here the slick vocals feel a bit out of context.
I’m not sure what kind of drugs or upbringing went into creating an album of such unapologetically uncool influences. I mean, no one’s playing soul and funk anymore, at least not and try to pass it off as indie rock and find the hip crowd. Maybe that’s why I like All Across the Grand Charade. Lovetron isn’t really breaking new ground as much as retreading old ground and tossing in a few modern concessions, but in 2003 it sounds fresh and fun. And even if you’ve heard funk and soul before, you can still enjoy it again in this modern package.