Vancouver-based Chains of Love released this 7-song debut this past spring on Manimal Vinyl and it’s a nouveau-retro winner that delivers a fresh, but faithful take on the old school musical stylings of the 60s and 70s, mixing vibrant 60s Girl Group harmonies and Wall of Sound dynamics with 70s organ psychedelia and more modern, sharply angular guitar lines. What sets Chains of Love apart from being a mere nostalgic act is the band’s tight, catchy tunes, the high quality blend of various eras, and the compelling vocals of lead singer Nathalia Pizzaro and vocalist/guitarist Rebecca Marie Law Gray. Rounding out the band is guitarist Felix Fung, who is also the owner and engineer of Little Red Sound.
These 7 songs are powered by strong emotions and a dynamic melodicism and polished to a burnished glow. The vintage patina covering the songs gives them a ‘long lost recording’ feel, but it doesn’t come across at stuffy or kitschy or cute. These are rousing, throwback tunes tailor-made to tear up the hardwood dancefloor of a dimly-lit nightspot. Universal themes about matters of the heart, like love, loss, betrayal, and jealousy, inform the lyrics, which Nathalia and Rebecca lean into with a pressing passion and rawly, longing ache.
“All the Time” slinks up to the listener with up-tempo reverb guitar and Girl Group vocals. Standout “He’s Leaving (With Me)” opens with drums, tambourine, cymbals, and psychedelic, The Doors-like organ notes that follow the “Ahhing” vocal line. On the verse, Nathalie sings with wistful desperation “As he walks away / she’s begging him to stay.”, then switches to a victorious tone on the chorus as she draws out the triumphant words “He’s leaving – with me.” The song starts and ends with swaying “Be My Baby”-like syncopation, putting the listener in a Dirty Dancing frame of mind.
“Going-to-the-chapel”, harmonizing vocals flit in and out of “I’d Rather be Crying” as a kinetic beat, shining guitar chop, and bass line cut through the vocal sweetness. The bright, tangy “Lies Lies Lies” is all about garage rock with its up-tempo beat, jingling tambourine, and reverb guitar that descends into a surf guitar line. The smoky ballad is covered to sultry effect by “Mistake Lover” as it employs soft saxophone pulls and a disconsolate Nathalie mourning “I don’t know where else to go.” The title track smolders slowly with measured, antique-sounding piano notes, chiming bells, a steady bass line, and the occasional boom of the drum beat. A downcast Nathalie stretches out the lyrics “Day or night / it all seems the same.”