Tuff Love - Resort
“You saw more than I had ever dare to hope for” sing Tuff Love on 'Sweet Discontent', the first track from their compilation LP Resort. These lyrics describe adolescent growing pains, and this collection from the Glaswegian duo allow us to track the band's progression from summery energetic indie disco to something more autumnal, disheveled and dancing alone, ready for the complexities of the wider world.
Resort is formed of the band's three self-engineered EPs released between 2012 and 2015, with the tracks in chronological order; important for tracking that progression. Band members Julie Eisenstein (guitar, vocals) and Suse Bear (bass, vocals) name their EPs with a glint in their eyes, at least we hope they know their work is anything but: 'Junk', 'Dross', or 'Dregs'.
The Junk EP finds the band at their most euphoric and melodic, in later EPs we hear the band nod to early shoegaze era Lush but here they nod to the later guitar era of that quartet. To imagine if Top of the Pops remained for Tuff Love to gatecrash people's affections with their heart driven music. In addition to 'Sweet Discontent', 'Poncho' is an indie disco floor filler with fuzzed out guitars joining Eisenstein and Bear's lilting harmonies, while 'Copper' hints of the more reflective tone to come.
The next EP Dross opens "I don’t need a thing from your guided cage / I’ve got stamina / I’ve got rage” from the track 'Slammer'. Eisenstein and Bear's vocals remain lilting but henceforth they're more often urgent and layered, with even their extended "Ahh"s inviting further decoding. 'That's Right' echoes their first EP's melody and euphoria but ends abruptly as if impatient to move on to more important tasks. The final track 'Cum' contrasts "Come back to me / I'm ready to love you the way I'm supposed to" with its refrain "It could never be us", an uncertain end to a notable EP.
Until the final EP Dregs, the duo have kept it tight; only a few tracks have tentatively stepped over three minutes. But now half of the tracks are over four minutes. Amongst the more complicated arrangements and less formalised frameworks – and deeper shoegaze influences – the band now have self confidence to indulge in Lynyrd Skynyrd guitar riffs in the first track 'Duke' and try to break into Radiohead's 'Paranoid Android' in the final track 'Carbon', with both of these tracks featuring Eisenstein's higher-mixed more clearly articulated vocals imparting a more nuanced message than a feeling of joy. The compilation closes with "Keep strong stay strong / Before long they'll be gone", children singing about children leaving the nest, who wish to move on without losing their child-like sense of joy.
Tuff Love describe Resort as "a good way to put a full stop after their three EPs". It's also a fascinating insight into a remarkable band's formative journey – we can't wait for their next paragraph, and hope they press the return key soon.
Photo credit: Martin Barker