The Lovemakers

Times of Romance

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Though the cover art and photos suggests more of a late-'60s fetish, what the Lovemakers are after is from a different decade: the '80s. Wearing influences unabashedly on their sleeve from acts like the Human League, Alphaville, and the Cure, among many others, the San Francisco trio's major label debut, reworking a couple of songs from their self-titled debut, couldn't be more well-timed given the emergence of general retromania in the early 2000s. Still, intent is one thing and success is another, but thankfully, unlike some truly atrocious trend-hopping releases out there Times of Romance works because the trio blends in good humor and exuberance without making everything a camp exercise. (At least, not entirely -- lines like "Gonna Find"'s "Pressed up to my robot's cheek" definitely have tongue deep in said cheek.) Opening track "Prepare for the Fight," which reappears in remixed form at the end, captures this well -- the romantic sentiments of the lyrics are slyly challenged by the title, while the crisp surge of the music, with guitarist Scott Blonde handing off vocals to bassist Lisa Light for the chorus, aims for the anthemic and scores. The whole record is happily love- and sex-obsessed, but the way the band works it can be surprisingly deft -- "Is It Alright?" touches on everything from passionate dreams to (possibly) creepy stalking with a brilliant chorus and lovely guitars, while "We Should Be Taking Our Clothes Off" is a classic portrayal of frustration (follow-up line to the title: "But here we are instead"). Meantime there's the near-perfect call to the dancefloor "Shake That Ass," which starts with a groove not far removed from the Electric Six before Light kicks in with robot vocals for the chorus while Blonde trots out a surprisingly great falsetto. The album drags at points -- having established a great formula, sometimes there's not enough variety on the band's part to make extended listening memorable -- but taken in doses nearly everything succeeds in one way or another.

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