Posted on January 23rd, 2009 (12:11 pm) by Travis Müller

It's difficult to take a band like The Bicycles seriously when the music video to their lead off-single is a parody of a kindergarten play; then again, perhaps serious isn't exactly what they're going for. When first hearing of the Canadian pop band, I was waiting for another mediocre trendy brand that all the scene kids loved - such bands usually leave a lot to be desired. If the record wasn’t another scenester feature, it could still be straight up boring to listen to. Refreshingly enough, The Bicycles's sophomore album Oh No, It's Love wasn't either of the above: it's not terrible, and it's nothing like the bands certain people recommend to me. But listening to this album means listening to a bunch of derivative sounds that have little originality to them. The influences from the Canadian pop scene are there, as well as inspiration from Of Montreal, Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians, and Paul Simon, but maybe The Bicycles relied too much on past records to create their sophomore record.

"Oh No, It's Love" is written much like a 1960s pop album with most songs not exceeding the two-minute mark, meaning that the listener gets to delve into nineteen tracks rather than the standard ten. But what is better: Making 19 mediocre songs or ten well-crafted ones? The bulk of this record sounds like a collection of demos - the kind you find in a shoebox hidden in a radio station's basement. In fact, if I were submerge my arm into a bargain bin at any Boston music store, I could pull out at least three albums that contain the same sounds present here. There are a few pleasant surprises on this record, though. Only clocking in at about a minute and eighteen seconds, "What a Fool" is a song to have on repeat with its slickly produced 1965 sound. It's a good mixture of beach pop and conventional rock music, very much akin to the work new wave group Blondie did back in the 1970s on their eponymous debut. The title-track isn't all that bad either - its cute melody is unavoidable as the singers coo "Oh no.. Oh no! It's love..." like a group of children. As with most of the songs on this album, the vocals are difficult to understand, as they are only slightly above a mumbling whisper, but really - all you need is the catchy melody to put you in a great mood. Unfortunately, "Oh Yes, It's Love," though a pleasant little folk diddy, doesn't have the same intelligence as its counterpart.

When I turned on this record for this first time, I let the first four songs play through, not even realizing that they were different. I'm unsure who mastered this album, but it sounds like an abused cassette, making songs like "Sweet Petite" painful to listen to. As nice as the
Queen-like guitar work is, it sounds like a copy of a copy of a copy from the radio. I know they were going for the lo-fi effect - but don't do it at the cost of enjoyment! The rapid changes in musical direction from the electronic-inspired opening to the 70s rock vibe to soft acoustics to a saxophone instrumentation make this song rather interesting to listen to. In fact, it's the most eyebrow-raising song on the record. While I certainly can't pick anything out that's terrible or annoying, the rest of the album is just so generic that I couldn't recite a single lyric off the top of my head, if someone were to ask me. In fact, despite multiple listens, I'm fairly sure the only lyric from the entire album I know is "Oh no, it's love."

The greatest moment on Oh No, It's Love, though, is not even a song. It's a quick dialogue called "Prove It" in which it begins with "Hey, Nessa? Do you trust me?" before the speaker casually asks for the other woman's heart as if asking to borrow her cell phone. "Nessa" obliges, and the other woman then, in turn, shoves it down her trousers as the now heartless Nessa cries, "I can't believe you would shit on my heart!"

If you're a fan of slightly offbeat instrumentation with unintelligible vocals, then you might be tembeted to give this record a spin. On first listen, you'll forget it's playing. On you're second, you'll find a few tracks you like. On you're third listen... no, wait, you probably won't be playing this album a third time. If it weren't for the title-track's hook, I'm more than certain I'd forget the record's title. So, go on: ask me if I can tell the difference between "Can I Keep Calling You Baby," "Green Light," and "Leave That Woman Alone." I dare you.

Listen to The Bicycles if you like: People taking lo-fi too damn far.

Track List

1. "Won't She Be Surprised" (2:00)
2. "One Twist Too Much" (1:29)
3. "I'll Wait For You" (2:24)
4. "Once Was Not Enough" (2:52)
5. "What A Fool" (1:18)
6. "Roland" (1:37)
7. "Green Light" (1:07)
8. "Walk Away (From A Good Thing)" (3:23)
9. "Oh No, It's Love" (1:51)
10. "Stop Calling Me Baby" (1:52)
11. "Sweet Petite" (2:57)
12. "No One Can Touch You Now" (2:23)
13. "End Of A Good Thing" (1:54)
14. "Thanks For Calling Me Baby" (0:25)
15. "Leave That Woman Alone" (3:11)
16. "Prove It" (1:03)
17. "It's A Good Thing" (1:55)
18. "Can I Keep Calling You Baby?" (2:17)
19. "Oh Yes, It's Love" (1:53)



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