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Lovvers
Think Mike Diver , September 24th, 2008 11:44

Lovvers Think

Ostensibly feral punk youths – their reputation so-far founded on live shows of spilled physical vitriol and antagonistic front, wildly flailed limbs and playfully confrontational jibes – Lovvers nevertheless possess pop nous plentiful enough to place this debut 'album' (seven songs in fewer than 13 minutes does not an album truly equal in this writer's unwritten book) – above the revisionist ranks cluttering the nation's basement clubs. Think is food for thought, indeed; it's a record that pulls few punches but spits its bile with a smile.

Playing at being punk – in sound, in spirit – is easy enough, and the bracket has been co-opted enough times since its 1970s blossoming to render its truest meaning lost to the ether; I for one wouldn't recognise authenticity in a band if it was whacking me about the noggin with a bike chain. But Lovvers bypass the aesthetic elements of contemporary punk acceptance, and concentrate their enthusiasm on a feeling, that which can't be mirrored from magazine pages or bluffers' guides. Think is from the gut and the heart, not the head and the pocket; it's a record that acts on one hand as the best flyer ever for the band's recommended live show, and on the other as a reminder that you can't concoct acerbity absolute in a studio.

A brief diversion into the annals of a band's history to date: Lovvers formed a couple of years back, the four-piece collecting two ex-members of Nottingham-based avant-punks The Murder Of Rosa Luxemburg (one LP on Undergroove – do check it out) and hitting the road for the foreseeable. Three sevens via Jonson Family and a series of ever-more-decent support slots and: Think. While they were the subject of no true bidding war, Lovvers had their share of label admirers prior to putting pen to paper with Wichita for this release, and they continue to enjoy a following at stables of discerning tastes. Ergo: this is a band raised on the road, one that has trailed asphalt in pursuit of this goal. Lovvers' shtick ain't new, but it's true.

And Think truly impresses, immediately – 'Human Hair' fuzzes into life first, vocalist Shaun Hencher noticeable in the mix but his words clouded by a deliberately lo-fi cacophony that engulfs the entire record. The sole aspect of clarity throughout is Henry Withers' guitar – his memorable licks, owing as much (if not more) to the Beatles as they do Big Black, give Think its necessary accessibility, operating in the role commonly dominated by a band's lyricist. For every couplet missed, there's a riff to remember; precise words soon matter little, as it's the cadence of Hencher's squeals and screeches that comprises the backbone of each arrangement. 'No Romantics' is one of the more perfect assimilations of the key traits of these largest cornerstones, Withers' 'da-da-da-da-daa-daa-daa-daa-daaa' fret work already at sing-along level live. Trust: I've both witnessed and engaged.

If in their earliest incarnation Lovvers were a ringer for early-door Dischord acts such as split-release partners Faith and Void, now they're very much their own band, a voice singular discovered somewhere on the A40 towards show X of the year. They possess an energy that's far from unique, and it's an energy that can and has alienated first-timers in their audience, but beneath the give-a-fuck surface the quartet exude compositional intelligence beyond cursory assessments – it's because of this savviness, the application of deceptively tricky to craft hooks that many a Cathy Dennis would kill for, that Think is ingrained with such longevity, despite its brief duration.

'Wasted Youth' sits in its penultimate tracklisting position as an on-paper summarisation of so many bands' shattered aspirations. Failure in others is predictable based on precedents set, as reins are passed and focus redirected to the elements that do not matter. But by only ever caring about number one, building their reputation on the road and releasing not in rivers but in drops, Lovvers have ascended to a commendable pre-listen respectability, and this position is bolstered further by this sensational seven-pack of melodic punk-rock fixes. It's literally not big, but it's cleverer than you Think, enough to suggest the next offering from such devoted youths will be anything but wasted on a burgeoning faithful.

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