Some protest music speaks to specific events. Sometimes it commands specific actions. Other times it is a non-specified reaction. Woods’ Love is Love is a reaction to the unexpected turn of events that flipped the United States on it’s head last November.
Recorded in the immediate months that followed, it is not overly negative, angry or sad. As the title clearly states, it is steeped in feelings of love. If you made a word cloud of the compiled lyrics of this six-song EP, ‘LOVE’ would stand central, big and bold, eclipsing all others by a large margin. This is a record borne in protest, but one that exists to lift up and comfort. If the ‘Love Trumps Hate’ slogan needs a soundtrack, this is it.
Woods fans will find immediate comfort in the familiar psychedelic rock sounds with it’s signature mix of Ethiopian jazz influences as the band had built into their last standout record, City Sun Eater in the River of Light. Horns, psychedelic guitar, groovy bass and in-the-pocket rhythms wrap around each other to form a bond not easily broken throughout this tight 30+ minute set.
The record kicks off with positivity and warmth on the title track. It’s a song that instantaneously gets added to the Woods canon like it was there all along. “Bleeding Blue” sounds like the soundtrack to a Rocky montage, had Rocky been training in the streets of London while being chased by a throng of young screaming women. “Lost in a Crowd” brilliantly adds a sunny splash from the Caribbean to the already thick mix. Beginning with a din of digital crickets, “Spring is in the Air” builds to colorful and blooming horn blasts, but never quite explodes through to summer. Instead it falls quietly into “Hit That Drum.” The EP isn’t just oozing positivity, doubt and struggle do rear their ugly heads. But lead man Jeremy Earl more or less explains the main drive for the album in “Hit That Drum,” singing “Feeling dark / feeling down / I hit that drum / It takes me away.”
They end it with a return to the title track, and a question, “How can we love with this kind of hate?” And comes the answer: “Say that love is love.”
Key tracks: Bleeding Blue, Lost in a Crowd, Spring is in the Air