Addison Love – Thoughts on Lunch? (Big Stir)
Those who claim that power pop music is an old(er) man’s game should rejoice mightily upon hearing Addison Love’s excellent debut record, Thoughts on Lunch? Love is a 22-year-old wunderkind from Orange County, California whose name first surfaced in indie pop circles as a member of Yorktown Lads (whose lone release, 2015’s Songs About Girls and Other Disasters, is a must-hear for those who haven’t had the pleasure). On the 12-track Thoughts…, Love handles most of the vocals and instrumentation all by his lonesome and the results are thoroughly appealing and consistently engaging.
The piano-and-voice-only ballad “Just One Minute” kicks things off with a pretty, 60-second (duh...check the title again) rumination on songwriting that finds Love lamenting, “I’ve been trying far too long/I should just give up.” Good thing he didn’t, because a fresh-faced blast of guitar pop is up next—“Anything’s Right” subtly incorporates the bassline from Little Richard’s “Lucille” in the chorus, a bit of the Who’s “Who are You” in the instrumental bridge, and a neat little Jellyfish-like twist at the close. Other faves: “Other Angels” is a snappy mid-tempo rocker with some superbly arranged, Beatles-influenced backing vocals (all Love) during the choruses; “The Ballad of Dr. Minard” is a maddeningly catchy, harmonium-fueled waltz with a hilarious set of lyrics about a past-his-prime community college astronomy instructor (“He cares not what Paul, Linda, and Denny might say about Venus and Mars”—perfect!); “I Think You’re Swell” recalls George Harrison circa 1969, particularly the “Something”-influenced drum fills in the bridge and the fluid guitar solo; and the hauntingly gorgeous acoustic ode, “She” (with guest Kira Magoon’s beautifully sung backing vocals adding poignancy and power) is another example that proves that even at the tender age of 22, Love has ample songwriting chops.
The curiously titled “Wee & Nancy Lee” is a wonderfully forceful little pop-rock tune, and just may be the best thing here. With Anthony Grisham tossing in some tasty electric guitar licks throughout and Love helping drive the tune with some McCartneyesque bass guitar runs and a nice lead vocal performance, “Wee” sounds as if it could have been a cool album cut from Wings back in the day. (The song is about Love’s propensity for getting lost while driving; Wee and Nancy Lee is an intersection near his home.) “Like the Beatles” is another cut worthy of special mention; written with fellow Yorktown Lads bandmate/fellow Beatles nerd Mike Simmons (who also contributes some wacky backing vox), it’s a jaunty aural love letter to the Fab Four with more sly lyrical and musical references than one can shake a proverbial stick at. Love closes out the record with the heart-tugging ballad “Marquita,” a sweet, “Blackbird”/"Dear Prudence"-styled ode to a departed family friend that includes a lovely slide guitar interlude. In addition, a few of the tunes ("Blinds," "I Hope She Stays Around") feature addictive little keyboard figures that provide hooks on top of hooks within the body of the songs.
On Thoughts on Lunch? Addison Love successfully mines the myriad of influences mentioned above (as well as some less obvious ones, such as Mike Viola) and winds up with quite the smashing debut. It’ll be interesting to see where he goes from here, but whichever musical roads he decides to travel, it’s certain that he’ll be worth following. Grade: A