Love Bubble 2021
American pop trinity cleanse our times with the ’60s purity only to give it a twist and a swirl.
They might be one member short and light on A’s in their name to stand in line with THE MAMAS & THE PAPAS and ABBA, but LOVE BUBBLE ace the tuneful affection those classic pop quartets used to bring to the masses. Hailing from North Carolina, songwriter Hank Bones and his fellow songstresses Peggy Ratusz and Paula Hanke – who, apparently, are averse to feel too programmatic to appropriate a PHP acronym – also seem a bit low-key for the intents they harbor, yet it’s not the purpose of the pastiche they propose, and the trio’s tracks never pursue parody anyway.
The group’s retro approach is derived from the very idea of this project’s existence, harking back to the “Hair” musical and the Summer of Love innocence, as their first album’s irresistible titular number posits. Not that any thematic pomposity can get in the way of such deceptively unsophisticated ditties as the one which gave the ensemble their moniker and which weaves sweet polyphony out of three voices and gives a toe-tapping groove to the infectious melody. However, for all the sunshine vibe the likes of “Honeymoon In June” and “Twice This Summer” radiate, instrumental jangle underneath the vocals can sometimes sound rather simplistic – as opposed to the scintillating baroque behind “Paradise Falls” where ivories enhance the piece’s palpable throbbing, or the flute-flaunting “I Wanna Be” where phrases are passed around between the singers.
The result is quite seductive, the upbeat bonus cover of “I Got You Babe” going so far as to suggest ménage à trois as a jest, the woodwind-washed “Warm And Cozy” accessing pre-war serenity, and “Moonlight Swim” marrying bossa nova to humorous lyrics and honeyed harmonies. There’s nothing to better sum it all up than the vaudevillian “Guilty Pleasures” that caresses and punches the listener in equal measure as a contrast to “Beautiful Soul” which has acoustic strum to carry nostalgia beyond the pale. “Love Revolution” is a good start for a new group’s story, but they’ll have to offer more fantasy next time to hit the big time.