Since becoming a band in 2005, Woods have been a voice of optimism amid weary times. Based in Brooklyn, they have built a national fanbase with consistent sound and ideals all the way through. With their new project, Love is Love, Jeremy Earl and his bandmates propose that we forget about the negative vibrations for a while…
And it works.
The album-opener, “Love is Love”, is an intersection between Caribbean rhythms and Morricone’s “Spaghetti Western”. Exciting and at times hypnotizing, it establishes the central theme of the album, which is, as the band puts it, “a meditation on love”. The sound of the guitars, distant and bright, and the horn counter-lines create the dreamy atmosphere that will dominate the rest of the album, and you’re in for an emotional ride.
“Lost in a Crowd” is the common’s man poem. We follow love through the realization that we haven’t hit rock bottom. Loneliness, however, is the ultimate floor, and as long as there is an aspiration to engage with others and share emotions and ideas, the world isn’t doomed. The layered guitars make the song completely round as Jarvis Taveniere’s bass continues to be a melodic tool to contrast the vocals.
“Spring is in the Air” is the grand moment of the album. This instrumental revolves around an epic brass line in a massive display of layering and sound design. Woods unintentionally lecture some contemporary artist that rely on technology to create the music rather that using it to enhance an idea. Despite the length (almost 10 minutes), the song flows naturally, growing in intensity after every feature.
A hint at spoken poetry, “Hit the Drum” rests on the Wurlitzer organ in what becomes a chant of defeat:
You can hang your head in shame
I’ll be hanging mine
If you turn around to another day
Someday is now
Someday is now
Earl wonders and makes us wonder with him: What can we really do? Is there a point, in the end? Perhaps what it is all about is the drum, the relief of the soul after it acknowledges its insignificance.
The last song of the album is an encore that ends love’s journey through the different worlds and realities we have previously explored. “Love is Love (Sun on Time)” is the “we can do it”, the “it’s still not too late” moment. It may feel strange, it may hurt and you might even disagree but, in the end, Love is Love.
I left my personal favorite, “Bleeding Blue”, for last. Although the lyrics reflect how hate is rising, the music lifts one’s soul. It was a masterful idea to hold the drums at the beginning of each verse for contrast. What we feel when they come back is that the energy has doubled to benefit the words.
Woods demonstrates a maturity that is becoming increasingly harder to find these days. Really clear vocals, no pretensions and realistic songwriting backed by an outstanding group of musicians that fill every space without overplaying. This is the band’s greatest achievement; in the era of pomposity demagoguery they stay close to their message.
Love is Love is out now via WOODSIST.
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