Among the delights that make Love In The Ruins’s debut album Collapse sparkle in the ears & mind is the unlikelihood of the music itself. More than a throwback to the synth-slick sheen of 1980s pop rock, Collapse shimmers sometimes like a firework, sometimes like a beacon, sometimes like an alarm light. Where current pop music usually tends to avoid the political, the social comment, the acknowledgment of what’s broken & breaking in the world, Love In The Ruins add pages to the songbook in which Nena’s 99 Red Balloons, Bowie’s Scary Monsters, U2’s Unforgettable Fire and Prince’s 1999 all are indexed. The poet Martín Espada observed that his political poems were really love poems, and so it is with Collapse, whether overtly, as with the haunted 5/4 night flight of “Late Capitalist Love Song,” and the 80s-inspired fruit-flavoured hook of “Lumina” that almost soothes away the apocalyptic sorrow of its chorus hoping for a golden age “if it lasts forever, or just a single day,” or obliquely, as with the 4/4 club thump of “Galaxy Love” in which the lovelorn hungover leads to self acceptance & forgiveness. “You have the best face in the universe” declares the album’s Animal Collective-esque opener “Song From Inside The End Of The World,” but then it worries, as all lovers in dangerous times must, and it begs for assurance: “tell me the future isn’t laughing at us.” The present is difficult enough, with kleptocrats, social media trolls and surveillance capitalists making both love and self-care risky ventures. Yet we persist, and Collapse is the music of persistence, of finding a bright line of joy running through the rubble.
Equally delightful and unlikely is the story of the album’s making: two tech industry nine-to-fivers thirsting for meaning outside the overproductive life of work and the overprogrammed work of life in our Instagram economy finding each other on Craigslist of all places, and then finding they share a vision of making music that doesn’t simply move units or meet the criteria set by some playlist algorithm but means something. That Dana Suchow and John Paul Davis spent their evenings and weekends writing & recording the 15 gems that make up Collapse only makes the collection that much realer. Because behind the anxieties about despots, racism, the security state, regressive politics and overreaching capitalism the songs hold on to the belief that everyday people can build lives beautiful and worthwhile, even in these troubled times. “Don’t give what they’re asking for,” says the chorus of “The Shakedown” and “Open Up” encourages us to unplug, “wake up, rise up, be born.” Or, as “They Won’t Even See Me” declares: “nothing’s left between me and open sky.”
All songs written, performed, recorded, produced by Love In The Ruins
except: guitar on "Song From Inside The End Of The World," "Do The Collapse," "Late Capitalist Love Song" and "News Feed" - M.S. Borders saxophone on "Danced Too Long" and "Invictus" - Levon Henry
Mixing by John Paul Davis additional mixing: Dana Suchow and M.S. Borders
Mastered by Jonny Taylor at Beacon A/V Lab
Cover art by John Paul Davis Art direction by John Paul Davis and Dana Suchow
all songs copyright 2019 Dana Suchow, BMI and John Paul Davis, BMI