Featuring a lineup comprised of members of Cobra Verde, Dinosaur Jr., and Witch, it's no great surprise that Sweet Apple rock out big time on their debut album Love and Desperation, but if you're expecting this to sound like some loud indie rock super session, think again. Singer and guitarist John Petkovic wrote the songs on Love and Desperation while struggling with some personal demons after the death of his mother, but rather than explain the details of his crises in song, this album sounds like a man shaking off death by embracing life through rock, spelled RAWK. Love and Desperation boogies and swaggers rather than stewing in angst, and if the lyrics occasionally touch down on his darkness (most notably on "Hold Me, I'm Dying" and "It's Over Now"), the thick wall of guitars, the deep report of the basslines, and the taut, clattering drumming has as much to do with '70s arena rock as anything you would have heard on college radio in the '90s. And if you're looking for some guys to bring the rawk as hard and heavy as comfort food, you can't do much better than Sweet Apple; Petkovic isn't afraid to play his vocals for high drama but doesn't sink into histrionics (and let's face it, this kind of music was never meant to be subtle), he and Tim Parnin know how to make the walls shake with their guitars, Dave Sweetapple's basslines give the tunes a rock-solid melodic framework, and J. Mascis shows he's nearly as good (and every bit as enjoyably bombastic) behind the drums as he is on guitar. (Mascis does toss in a few guitar solos here and there, and his trademark sound can be spotted a mile away.) Only John Petkovic can say how effective Love and Desperation is as therapy, but as chest-thumping and bong-rattling rock, Sweet Apple's debut is a rousing success.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming