The Von Bondies

Love Hate and Then There's You

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The Von Bondies returned with Love Hate and Then Theres You several lineup changes and nearly five years after the release of Pawn Shoppe Heart -- virtually a lifetime later in terms of musical trends. Interest in the garage rock revival of the early 2000s had already peaked when Pawn Shoppe Heart arrived in 2004, but the Von Bondies scored a genuine hit (and future theme song for the TV show Rescue Me) with "C'mon C'mon," the album's most inspired and urgent moment. Although nothing on Love Hate and Then Theres You quite lives up to "C'mon C'mon," that song's passion and driving riffs provide the template for most of this album. "This Is Our Perfect Crime" picks up right where "C'mon C'mon" left off, envisioning the band as a gang uniting the kids and protecting the underground. It's an almost quaint viewpoint in the late 2000s, when a true underground is harder than ever to come by, dissolved by how hard it can be to find something vital in a music scene full of overwhelming options and instant gratification. This kind of darkly romantic earnestness dominates Love Hate and Then Theres You's first half, sometimes connecting ("This Is Our Perfect Crime," "Pale Bride"), sometimes not ("Shut Your Mouth," "Only to Haunt You"). However, as the album unfolds, the Von Bondies' more playful, energetic side surfaces with the Pixies-ish "21st Birthday" -- which sounds as reckless and carefree as a song called "21st Birthday" should -- and "I Don't Wanna," another slice of revved-up guitar pop that keeps garage rock's fun and fire without slavishly rehashing its past glories. With production by Peter Katis, Butch Walker, and Rick Parker, Love Hate and Then Theres You sounds even slicker than Pawn Shoppe Heart, but in a way that reflects and enhances the changes in the band's music. "Earthquake"'s unabashedly hooky melody was made for polished surroundings, and Leann Banks and Christy Hunt's backing vocals on "Blame Game" bring more than a little pop to the song's paranoia. Love Hate and Then Theres You is the Von Bondies' most consistent album yet, and as they sing on "Chancer," "You don't look so cool/But you look so alive." Sometimes surviving is the best revenge.

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