After two cassette-only releases, Love Songs to Death serves as a history lesson, chronicling the first four years of Houston's Sad Like Crazy. Trey Pool and Mari Pool (who married two years after the band's 1997 creation) have always served as the creative forces behind the band's dreamy and stormy output, with the assistance of drummer Piam Oskouie, bassist Thane Matcek, and original drummer Gram LeBron, who left the band in 1999. The 22-track CD compiles 21 of the band's strongest songs, along with a cover of the Replacements' "Can't Hardly Wait." The first half of the disc highlights the band's gentle approach to songwriting. While the music flip-flops between crunchy indie rock and soft, carefree, acoustic-based toe-tappers, an image of an extremely promising band emerges. Seemingly re-creating themselves with each song, it's clear that the band experimented with many styles during its first four years. The disc really hits its stride with "Lemme Go Home" on track four, creating a playful Southern groove, and precisely setting up the rest of an up- and down-tempo album. Mari Pool and Trey Pool trade vocal duties, displaying their love for music and their obvious musical rapport. While soft and fast songs are paired off routinely through the album, it somehow works. Love Songs to Death can't be critiqued like a regular album, as it wasn't assembled like one. The CD required the bandmembers to pick and choose from the more than 100 songs they generated in the group's first four years of existence. Each track highlights a different musical aspect of Sad Like Crazy, especially highlighted in the 16th and 17th tracks, "Mercy of Mine" and "Putting Me On." On "Mercy of Mine," Trey Pool calmly croons a lullaby, and Mari Pool leads the punkish "Putting Me On" with a sweet attack led by the solid bassline. The disc ends with the melancholic and serene "Butter in Yr Coffee," leaving the listener waiting for more.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Cramer