The Lovethugs – Playground Instructors

The Lovethugs
Playground Instructors

The Lovethugs are yet another Rainbow Quartz offering, and like their label-mates the Jessica Fletchers and the Three4Tens, they offer the sounds of old-school rock, everything from Liverpool to lysergic. This band’s particular influence seems to be the Doors (in their less heavy-handed moments), represented here by heavy drums and wandering, ostinato guitar riffs.
The Lovethugs, who hail from Norway, share a fondness for metal with their fellow Scandinavians the Cardigans. Jim Faulty, the singer and primary guitarist, has adopted a little bit of Jim Morrison’s affected vocal style, though in Faulty’s case the vocals (as well as the guitar playing) often sound flat, plodding, and off-key. Backing him, the Lovethugs sound basically like a capable garage band, and little more. There is little here of the spirit and energy that livened up the recent releases by the Jessica Fletchers and Three4Tens (both reviewed here recently). The band plods along through predictable, elementary melodies broken up by the occasional screeching guitar solo.
What’s more, they have unwisely decided to include the lyrics in the album’s liner notes, allowing you to pick out minor miracles of tortured syntax like, “Well, I’m happy now to tell you that I’m never feeling afraid … / And still I want to understand and still I wanted to try.” To be fair, the band is from Oslo, and sparkling English is usually too much to ask of even native-speaking pop singers, but most of the lyrics on Playground dissolve into incomprehensibility. This can charming, in a Lost in Translation sort of way, if you’re the Pizzicato Five, but I think I’d enjoy the Lovethugs much more if they sang in Norwegian. That would by much cooler, wouldn’t it?
As it is, everything about this record-from the bewildering, faux-psychedelic cover art to the lazy rhythms to the impenetrable lyrics-just leaves me a little confused.