The Regrettes

How Do You Love?

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Take the title of the Regrettes' second album as something of a promise. How Do You Love? finds the band -- or, perhaps more specifically, its leader Lydia Night -- exploring the ramifications of the titular question. It's a bit of an autobiographical quandary for Night, who fell madly and deeply in love sometime after the 2017 release of Feel Your Feelings Fool! The relationship didn't survive, but it inspired the song cycle of How Do You Love?, which traces the rise and fall of Night's first great romance. Chronicling an affair isn't a new concept. Other artists have cut their own song cycles about faded love; the Regrettes tackle this shopworn warhorse with the enthusiasm of youth and the urgency of a broken heart. Night amplifies her anguish with theatrical gestures, the grandest of which arrives first: she opens the album with "Are You in Love," a recited poem that puts all of her pieces in play. It's a far cry from the exuberance of Feel Your Feelings Fool!, but Night's growing ambition and accomplishment are invigorating in their own way. Telling an overarching story focuses Night as a songwriter, an evolution that tightens her craft and trims away much of its giddy flair. Her facility with pop music and deep knowledge of its history remain evident: "Pumpkin" sways as if it was designed for a slow dance at a sock hop, and "I Dare You" cannily splices the Strokes with the Ramones. What keeps the Regrettes from feeling like a fussy retro outfit is how the group never is intent on re-creating sounds and styles; they poach elements from the past because it's part of their shared language. If the group sounds slicker on How Do You Love? than they did on Feel Your Feelings Fool!, chalk that up to how they're now a professional rock & roll band who polished their chemistry during their time on the road, a time that led to a slightly different lineup than what was there before. It's a subtle shift that accentuates Night's growth as a songwriter. Maybe the group loses some of the kinetic kick that made Feel Your Feelings Fool! such a gas, but How Do You Love? proves that Night and the Regrettes have figured out how to turn ebullient punk-pop into a sustainable source of energy.

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