Album Review: The Von Bondies – Love, Hate and Then There’s You

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Von Bondies lead singer Jason Stollsteimer has had an interesting five years since 2004s’ Pawn Shoppe Heart. If touring the hell out of a popular album, searching for a new record label and getting assaulted by Jack White wasn’t enough, there was the whole process of actually putting a new record out. Luckily, Stollsteimer is a positive person and though the songs may have a slightly darker angle on this year’s Love, Hate, and Then There’s You, he still feels, “you need bad days to realize what’s good in life.”

Opening track “This Is Our Perfect Crime” is possibly the most addictive and anthemic sounding Von Bondies tune to date, with the backing band sounding like an army marching behind Stollsteimer. The ball-breaker opener moves at a pace that lets it be known it’s going somewhere and won’t be stopped. Interestingly enough, the rest of the album follows suit.

First single off the album, “Pale Bride”, features Stollsteimer’s  vocals in front of the groups’ two female members, bassist Leann Banks and guitarist Christy Hunt. Stollsteimers vocals sound a bit like Jack White’s in places, only much more determined and less sporadic. Contrariwise, “Only to Haunt You,” heavily features his vocal styling with no back up support.

According to the press releases,“21st Birthday” is most likely to become a single, however it’s one of the least original sounding tracks on the album, it’s just too poppy for the band. “She’s Dead To Me” kicks in next with a dead ringer of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, though it quickly becomes apparent that it’ll be nothing of the sort. Stollsteimer and a female vocalist exchange lines throughout the very catchy song.

The band seems to be channeling the spirits of British’s pop-punk past on “Chances”, and though it’s not a high point of the album, the quick back and forth vocals and Blum’s drumming carry the track. “Blame Game” keeps the overall energy of the album up, in contrast to other songs about relationships that normally drag the air out of the room.

“I Don’t Wanna” could also be a single, though it also feels like it could have been an early Bloc Party track with Blum’s rapid-fire kit work closely resembling Matt Tong’s. Stollsteimer’s vocals sound like they are being dragged through mud as he croons, “I don’t wanna be this way!” Tracks “Accidents Will Happen” and “Earthquake” fly by at the speed of light before album closer “Modern Saints” slows things down with a long drum intro before everyone else kicks in. The track brings the album to a close with lyrics about patience, which this album shows none of.

Producers Butch Walker (Hot Hot Heat, The Donnas) and Rick Parker (Black Rebel Motorcycle Club) simply fine-tuned the music that Stollsteimer and drummer Don Blum had been working passionately on, and it shows on every track. The album is decidedly less punk and it’s quite obvious the five years in between albums were not one bit wasted. Every song is crisp, clear and begging to be heard. Chiming in at just over 35 minutes, Love, Hate and Then There’s You doesn’t play around with the concept of time, it is simply attacking music, track after track. If 2004’s hot single and Rescue Me theme song “C’mon C’mon” introduced the band into the mainstream world of indie-rock then Love, Hate and Then There’s You will certainly bring the masses.

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