The Ludvico Treatment – Romanticism

April 6, 2008

It has been established that there is such thing as new, original shoegaze, although it is rare and usually disposable. And then there is the majority of the genre, the stuff that sticks close to the roots and does not really bring anything new to the table. I could fill pages of albums from bands that have no originality whatsoever and are nothing more than a pack of cigarettes to be smoked through, and the carton thrown away. The Ludvico Treatment are probably just another band of this type, but something about them is compelling.

It baffles me that this is the first shoegaze album entitled Romanticism. The word might as well be the unflappable thesis of the genre. That said, Romanticism doesn’t just stay in one place like most ripoff shoegaze bands do. It explores the nooks and crannies of the genre better than any other shoegaze album I have ever encountered, and I have encountered many. Each song seems to come from a different direction. Of course, there has to be My Bloody Valentine influence, and the opening track 16:22 makes a not so underhanded throwback to Only Shallow. But it is likeable, in any case. The gentle Affectations is more attuned to The Catherine Wheel. Olivia My Love screams Ride. And perhaps the most interesting influence, and I’m pretty sure about this one, is the obscure My Bloody Valentine rarity, 2, which surfaces through the second to last song on Romanticism, (Everything.). Amazing.

In a word, this is an album that shoegaze entrepreneurs (if there is such a thing) will oogle over for longer than usual, because it tries more than one style. Which means they don’t really have any particular style or sound to distinguish them. We weren’t expecting them to. The flipside is that The Ludvico treatment can write some pretty nice pop melodies, and we love shoegaze, so it is a winning combo. Highlights are not few. Olivia My Love is the bittersweet aural sonnet. Affectations is a reminder that acoustic guitars do work in shoegaze if handled well enough. I was particularly impressed with Let Love Come in Through the Window. It surprised me. It sounded like it was going to be trite jock rock, or nu-metal, or something, up until the chorus, which turns everything inside out. Shoegaze doesn’t usually have screaming. It works here.

Romanticism has a couple sinkers, though. …And He Is Trapped in Ever After has a very tired melody. The closer, 11.22.63, is mostly angry Crossfade-esque guitar work played over a recording of the famous news report covering the Kennedy assassination as it happened on said date. It feels like wasted time that this cliche ends up being the album’s closing statement.

It should also be said that for a self released album, the production values here are impeccable. They almost sound too good for me to believe they aren’t professional. If they aren’t, they were probably slaved over. The moody, acoustic pieces are quite well treated, and the walls of noise sound refined. Whoever did this job gets mad props.

Romanticism is fun, more fun than most disposable shoegaze albums I have heard. It is still wishy washy, and the band has not developed a style here. I would expect a second album to steer itself more in one direction. Guesses? Maybe either mostly gentle acoustic based pieces, or a loud noisefest that might cater more to the punk influences that are buried in the annals of the genre. But how the hell should I know? I wanted a quick fix of shoegaze. That’s what I got, no more, no less. I’ll remember this one for being fun. And the fact that I will remember it says something.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: