3 out of 5
Produced by: Greg Freeman, TFUL 282
YMMV based on which variant of TFUL you adore (and adoring them in some fashion is a requisite of owning their albums): are you dedicated to their mad rock epics? To their wandering noodly tracks? To feller-filler?
Lovelyville is a classic, but alas, I’d say it’s not so for me, a fan of their slightly more streamlined Strangers and beyond work; early TFUL – Lovelyville holds a spot as a couple of revered Matador release – can be very hit or miss, often pursuing nonsense over content; whimsy over songs. They dither, they joke. Lovelyville is a lot of filler, not counting the CD bonus of The Crowded Diaper, which is a sequence of nonsense tracks which are as juvenile as that title makes them sound; whether it’s the never-coming-to-the-point structure of some tracks like Nail In the Head and the seven-minute looping Nothing Solid, or the aforementioned Feller bits, about half of the non-Diaper tracks are indulgently Thinking Feller Union Local-y, and/or a washed-out cover of Sugerloaf’s Green Eyed Girl. All of this can be varying levels of fun and interesting, but it certainly breaks up the album’s flow, pretty much killing it with the Diaper stuff.
But if we consider The Crowded Diaper tracks as extras, which they are, there are some scattered gleeful messes of distortion and instrument smashing effected. Admittedly, there’s some repetition in the approach of these tracks, elements from More Glee slipping in to Big Hands and Sinking Boats, but TFUL always adds some new breakdown or twist to the mix to keep these moments unique. And then we’re bookended by some of the group’s best songs (again, for those of us preferring their actual song songs): opener Four O’Clocker 2 – which finds them in nigh post-rock mode, with blasts of riffage strewn about – and 2x4s, which lopes about for a while but then stumbles in to polished college rock mode.
I did enter the TFUL game with their work after this point, so maybe it just doesn’t hold the same sway for me. If you’re new to their oddball antics, searching for songs on this thing might make you a little crazy, but you’ll know whichever form of their magic appeals as soon as you hear it.