Difficult Loves

BY Natalie Zina WalschotsPublished Feb 3, 2016

It might be a strange thing to say about an album of complicated, frenetic hardcore, but the writing in Difficult Loves is its greatest strength.
That's saying something, because the fifth record from the Los Angeles three-piece is no slouch, musically. The deep, mercurial d-beat parries beautifully with deliciously complex post-hardcore, with occasional chaotic flurries of grind. "Life's Blood" and "Wall of Books" have a richness to them, an almost decadent quality to the melody, while other tracks, like "Brushfire," are rougher, more fractured and fragmented, trading structure for anger. Even the moments of loveliness and clarity here are steeped in filth.
As good as the compositions are, however, it's when you start digging into the lyrics (courtesy of heavy metal professor Justin Smith, who is also known for his pop culture-influenced and conceptual work in Graf Orlock) that Difficult Loves really reveals its treasures. The title, lifted from a collection of Italo Calvino's short stories about how challenging it can be to communicate and reach past our human isolation, is just the beginning.
It's a record that rewards listeners who are willing to spend time sifting through references, doing research, meeting the record halfway. If you're up for treating this album like a text, there is real treasure here.

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