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Guilty of Love, the debut album by Los Angeles collective Unloved, could be the soundtrack to everyone’s favorite B movie or the sequel to Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. It shouldn’t be surprising that this record has a cinematic vibe, as two of Unloved’s principal partners are immensely accomplished individuals within Hollywood’s TV and film industry. Composer Keefus Ciancia‘s credits are lengthy, having contributed to the compositions for True Detective and The Fall while DJ/producer David Holmes has composed the soundtrack for several Steven Soderbergh films. The third member of the group is singer-songwriter and vocalist Jade Vincent, who is best known for her work with the The Jade Vincent Experiment. It is her haunting and enthralling voice, though, that turns Guilty of Love from just another score to a piece of brilliantly cinematic music.
But Guilty of Love is more than that; it’s more than just a soundtrack. What Ciancia, Holmes, and Vincent have done is create an album that feels like a full-blown movie. So instead of just composing the music, they’ve produced a concept album that is based around a trippy love story. And like a great movie, the album ebbs and flows with dramatic flourishes; softer, more serious moments; and a sullen yet spectacular ending.
It begins with the superb title track. “Guilty of Love” is a groovy, 70s track imagined in technicolor, and it’s rapturous sound feels like the anthem when the heroine enters the room. The track, though, is more about unrequited love, setting up what is to come. “After Dinner” is nervously titillating, like the parlay that happens between when the eyes of two interested parties meet. Can you see Uma Thurman and John Travolta sitting across from one another at Jack Rabbit Slims restaurant?
“Damned” is brilliant and breathtaking with is hazy ’70s-era pop sound coupled with the theatrics of contemporary alt-pop. The song soars in large part, however, to the terrific harmonies and Vincent’s deep, enchanting vocals, which act like the voice of one’s subconscious. As Vincent and the backup singers tell us, “Damned if you do. Damned if you don’t. Hearts desire. Hell fire.”
The dance between two lovers is echoed in the ethereal, Enya-esque “Cry Baby Cry”. The tempo intensifies and the plot thickens on the awesome “When a Woman Is Around”. “Lose that Chestershire grin. Take it like a man. Keep what’s yours. Leave me mine.” These four lines tell the entire story and show who is boss. “Xpectations” is the moment of reconciliation – or is it? The answer can be found in “This Is The Time”, a feverish rocker that captures the difficulties of moving on and leaving someone behind.
The album enters a completely new phase in its final third. The sound and storyline all change, beginning with “I Could Tell You But I’d Have to Kill” and followed by “We Are Unloved”. Gone are the ethereal and intimacy of the previous numbers, and in their place is a darker, more electronic-focused track. It’s as if the protagonist’s mindset has completely changed and how the events of the past have dramatically affected her, specifically where love no longer exists in her heart.
The album ends with a realization that one will be forever alone. An acceptance that only true love can only occur if one loves oneself first. “Forever Unloved” does this in a way that is introspective yet elegant and graceful. The music is almost heavenly, potentially depicting the afterlife or some other out-of-body experience. It is the representation of the calmness we feel when an epiphany strikes us, when the world just seems right.
Guilty of Love is that rare treat of an album. It is one that not only hits you emotionally, but you can also vividly imagine each and every scene described in the album. It’s as much as a cinematic journey as a psychological one, where the protagonist isn’t necessarily some fictional character but ourselves. Only the masterful storytellers and directors are able to achieve such feats, and we can add Unloved to this exclusive list. Maybe the next time we’ll hear them will be on Tarantino’s next film.
Guilty of Love is out now via Unloved Records.
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