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Love Machine — Düsseldorf - Tokyo
(Unique UNIQ242, 2021, CD / LP / DL)

Love Machine — Mirrors & Money
(Bandcamp Unique UNIQ237-1, 2019, DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2021-09-13

Düsseldorf - Tokyo Cover artMirrors & Money Cover art

Love Machine’s 2018 album Times to Come took a while to click for me. Their early-to-mid-70s vibe isn’t necessarily a bad thing on its own, but many listens were required before I found enough in the music to set it apart from mere retro-revivalism. The band clearly has a sense of humor about what they’re doing, which is also a help. With their newer releases, I’ve searched for that spark that will click with me so I can enjoy the music, but I’ve not been able to find it. Their 2019 EP Mirrors & Money takes on a distinct flavor of what I’d call 70s Soft Rock, kind of a low-budget Steely Dan vibe with less jazz and fewer of the sophisticated twists that lift the music above smooth pablum. The humor is present, but now just veers into lyrical silliness. I’m pretty sure “Valentino” is a love song about a sandwich, or maybe a sandwich used as a metaphor for the person who is the object of affection — either way, it doesn’t work for me. While the other five tracks don’t seem as silly, none of them do much for me.

Düsseldorf – Tokyo follows on the same path, featuring a mellow 70s mood and smooth grooves. The arrangements often feature a slide guitar, though generally without any hint of country flavor, and quite a few tracks have a horn section. Everything is well played and nicely recorded, but takes on too much of the mediocrity that seems to be their inspiration. They’ve patterned their sound after some of the least interesting music of the past, and nothing rises above their influences. I have no idea why a bunch of young guys from Germany would be inspired enough by boring American and English rock of the 70s to imitate it, but here’s the result. On Düsseldorf – Tokyo the lyrics are in German, so I can’t say if the words are as silly as those on Mirrors & Money, and I’ll admit I don’t care. I can’t imagine that any words would redeem the album. Love Machine seems to be aiming at mediocrity and hitting their target dead center.

Filed under: New releases, 2021 releases, 2019 releases

Related artist(s): Love Machine

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