Self-described as “aggressively melodic” and “apologetic pop music”, with Enya as their only listed musical influence, it’s difficult to tell if Glasgow-based duo Tuff Love are self-deprecating, don’t take themselves too seriously, or both. A product of 3 years of demos, their debut album, Resort, reflects a far more mature level of artistry than the band are perhaps willing to admit on their Facebook page and kitsch, 1990s-era website (web counter and all).
Bringing their own eclectic blend of dream-pop, surf, indie and psych rock to the scene, parallels can be drawn to the lucid-dream-like quality of The Olivia Tremor Control’s Black Foliage: Animation Music, the buried vocals and textured guitars of Beach House, the laidback slacker style of Mac DeMarco, the understated lyricism of Youth Lagoon and the indie-film aesthetic of Wolf Alice.
Not to get stuck on influences and similarities to other artists, Tuff Love do certainly have their own unique brand that comes across in the album Resort, an expansion and development of last year’s Dregs EP. The album kicks off with ‘Sweet Discontent’, the namesake of which is directly paralleled in the song by chorus-drenched guitars and reverb-laden vocal melodies, characteristic of surf rock, which juxtapose against the pained longing in its lyricism – “I hold on, I hold on, and I don’t let go” – which provides a stark contrast within the song. ‘Sweet Discontent’ sets the tone for the rest of the album which carries on in much the same fashion, with the melancholy of the lyrics ebbing and flowing as it progresses, peaking eventually with ‘Threads’, where it takes on an almost apathetic quality – “I broke my body and my soul for you / I wasted all my youth on you” – overlaying an almost-comically ironic interplay of pleasant guitar lines
. That’s not to say that this album is depressing as such, but bittersweet in much the same way that My Love is Cool (Wolf Alice) or 2 (Mac DeMarco) are; masterfully capturing that specific apathy that comes with a lazy summer day as well as either of those albums. When considered alongside the music videos they’ve put out, which seem like they could’ve been pulled straight from a 90s Nickelodeon sketch, they seem like a very complex and fun group: definitely one to watch, and not one to miss when they play the QMU at the upcoming QMU Live Fest.
[Nour Er-Issa – @dimredspectre]