Love Is All singer Josephine Olausson wants to get your attention, even if that means getting in your face. On the Swedish quintet’s debut album, she’s right up front, bouncing and yelling; between her squeal-and-yip delivery and earnest Swedish accent, she ends up in the sexy/nutty zone, somewhere between Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Karen O and Bow Wow Wow’s Annabella Lwin. The rest of the band (including the best-integrated punk-rock-saxophone since X-Ray Spex, another reference point) sounds enormous but far away, sailing on an ocean of reverb, like a barbarous dance-punk horde that’s sent Olausson ahead with a message: Pogo or flee.
It’s a challenge to make out what exactly she’s squeaking about, but closer study reveals two major themes to Love Is All’s ESL lyrics. One is repetition — on both the noise-disco spasm “Felt Tip” and the exhausted cool-down “Turn the TV Off,” she sings the same verse multiple times, intoned differently to provide the illusion of progress. The other is obsession bordering on creepiness. (“Used Goods” has Olausson playing a stalker: “I know where he buys his groceries…and I know we like the same kind of cheese.” And “Aging Had Never Been His Friend” has her doing further: “I keep the one I love in a freezer…fresh and young, fresh and young.”)
So they’re persistent suitors. They also know not to overstay their welcome; the album’s barely 31 minutes long, and most of its songs stay in a triple-espresso groove, shaking the floor with every beat and diving to a halt. The record’s highlight, “Busy Doing Nothing,” is a girl-group song on the shoulders of a punk song joyriding in Kelly Clarkson’s stolen hot rod. The band jerks, thumps, and grins while Olausson sneers, “I’ll have to get back to you! / I”ve got a thousand things to do!” It’s a kiss-off but it’s the kind that’s about to be followed by a great big kiss.
See also: X-Ray Spex, Germ Free Adolescents (Castle/Sanctuary, 1978)