Harlan T. Bobo's tales of heartbreak and romantic disillusionment would hardly make him a likely candidate to become a children's entertainer, but he's teamed up with three other notables from the Memphis music scene to form the Luv Clowns, a group providing entertainment for all ages on their debut album Love Clowns! Exactly how serious Bobo and his partners -- Doug Easley (who's worked with Tav Falco, Cat Power, and Two Dollar Guitar, as well as engineering and producing dozens of fine acts), Tim Prudhomme (a member of Reigning Sound), and Alex Greene (another alumnus of Reigning Sound as well as Big Ass Truck and the Compulsive Gamblers) -- are about this stuff is open to question; the music has a light and playful quality that would certainly make it suitable for small fry, but there's a curious undertow to the songs that suggests at least some of this is meant to be tongue in cheek, especially when the Clowns shout that they're doing it for the kids in classic punk rock fashion on "K-I-D-S" and they ponder moral ambiguity on their cover of "Good People Sometimes" from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. But beneath the purposefully goofy lyrics and silly voices, the Luv Clowns are also capable of writing simple but solid melodies and if the musicians have hardly set their eccentricities aside when they recorded this stuff, that adds to the album's charm, as they take a number of the standard archetypes of children's music and bend them ever so slightly to their own purposes. Love Clowns! is witty and expressive, and it's just straightforward enough (and safe enough) to amuse your offspring while taking enough unexpected turns to keep hipper parents interested, though hopefully the next Luv Clowns effort will be a bit livelier (and they'll put a touch less emphasis on the "cute" vocals).
Love Clowns! Review
by Mark Deming