A short time has passed since the release of City Sun Eater in the River of Light, and yet Woods releases another album in that same vein, Love Is Love. This brief period was saturated with some seemingly unpredictable world events, and Woods was obviously tuned-in. The album is a meditation on the contemporary world and life, and the mantra is, “love is love.” This positive repetition is not a distraction, but more a reminder of what is equally important while all of the current madness ensues. Love Is Love chronologically seems unplanned, but sounds tight and thoroughly thought out; a vitrine of their skill visible through a kaleidoscope.
The first track, “Love is Love,” takes the listener right back to where Woods left off in City Sun Eater in the River of Light. All of the elements of Ethiopian Jazz are used once again, and this time one can feel the exceeding level of comfort Woods has. The track has psych-jazz interludes that premier flanging guitar solos, and erratic basslines. “Bleeding Blue” follows with a more traditional style Woods introduction, but then is taken over by the powerful horn lead. The acoustics and soft-jam vibe accompanied by Jeremy Earl’s falsettos trade off and on with the breakthrough horn, and organ-style keys gleam throughout. Already, this early in the album, the positive reassurance bounced off of negative truths create a balance of romanticism and realism that seems to be the foundation of the album. The “love” in the first track and the “bitter truth” in the second track combine to create the streaming mixture that is the third track, “Lost In A Crowd.” It is a dreamy Woods’ tune that displays their maturation and skill of managing minimalism within their complex repertoire of sounds and styles. The melody and the simplistic layers are almost distracting from the gloom content of the lyrics; in particular, the perfectly timed reliefs of contrapuntal scales between the keys and the guitar is uplifting.
All that has happened so far in Love Is Love swirls together at the peak, properly placed in the middle, and titled “Spring Is In The Air.” Purely instrumental, this track displays Woods’ psychedelic capability in all of its glory. They have always had a psychedelic undertone to their music, but now with the addition of their newest member on keys and saxophone, this jam brings about just how much the band has grown since 2005. The peak doesn’t necessarily lead to a come down, but rather the descent is stopped short and the rest of the album rests on a plateau. “Hit That Drum” is a noisy hymnal; a balance of evenly spaced low, mid, and high frequencies all rotating in and out of one another. That falsetto voice makes hypnotic claims to be the one to take the listener away if they were to “hit that drum.” As the song’s intensity waxes and wanes, background vocals harmonized by higher frequencies stack on top of each other, creating a certain involuntary bliss to the ears. The album comes to an end with a reprise of the first track titled, “Love Is Love (Sun On Time).” It brings the album in full rotation, but with an added pronunciation of each of the instruments and an altered perspective on the album itself.
Love Is Love is a remarkable feat for Woods, having written and recorded it in two months from the beginning of this year. Woods keeps a balance of positive and negative in the album, showing light and love but not ignoring the darker aspects of life today. Looking back at the How To Survive In + In The Woods/At Rear House days, it is curious to see their rapid expansion of talent, sound, style, and artistic intelligence. From lo-fi freak-folk, they have grown into a freak-jazz-fusion pundit to their scene and their fans, and Love Is Love is validation of their position.