Blue Skies For Black Hearts – Love Is Not Enough
Record Label: King of Hearts Records
Release Date: November 14th, 2006
Blue Skies For Black Hearts is quite misleading. So is their album title, Love Is Not Enough. You’d think, assumptions outright, that this Portland band would probably not purr like a wistful, good-humored Badly Drawn Boy or Ben Kweller. And you would certainly not call pleasant in as the main adjective but really, I can’t think of a better word to describe Love Is Not Enough. Lots of bass guitar, soul and folky bumbling from singer Pat Kearns make him a qualified teacher for that pleasant lo-fi curriculum – after Ben Gibbard, of course.
And that’s when I learn the album is actually pretty emotional, at least in lyrical matter. Love Is Not Enough is exactly what it’s labeled to be – a tragic account of gut-wrenching heartbreak, but not in that - you know - “emo” sort of way. On the Beatles-era title track, “Love Is Not Enough,” Kearns and his acoustic guitar repeat jabs like So why do I/hurt so bad?/Feel so sad?/Oh my love with a spirited melody that doesn’t remind me of a lonely Valentine’s Day. Almost all of Love Is Not Enough is equipped with cheerful melodies, despite the underlying bitterness. The only song that actually makes me a bit sad, “With A Rubber Soul,” has an interesting series of percussion solos that work like a crowd gathering around street performers.
Instrumentally and lyrically I am impressed, but the production? That’s a delicate glaze. A good final product must do two things for me: 1) all the appealing aspects of the music must ride shotgun and 2) I have to want to see the songs live. Matthew Morgan and Kearns himself help Love Is Not Enough do both these things. It’s precise enough that I don’t feel cheated and it’s intimate enough that the idea of live action excites me. Seems too good to be true, huh? Definitely. I’m still looking for outstanding flaws.
But for the sake of argument, there are times when Blue Skies For Black Hearts orbits Brit-pop. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I usually get annoyed with a lot of Brit-pop hanging around. Perhaps a couple months from now, revisiting Love Is Not Enough will not be a pleasing as the first couple runthroughs. I suppose I will have to wait and see.