I Love You Drone, Drugs and Harmony

[Self-Released; 2008]

Styles: psychedelic, garage punk, clever album titles
Others: Mahjongg, These Are Powers, Psychedelic Horseshit

Probably the meat of what you need to know about Kansas City, Missouri's I Love You (or, more properly, Yah Tibyah La Blu) is that they are from Kansas City, Missouri. The fact that there is a Kansas City in Missouri is one of those vaguely Twilight Zone-y facts about life that just sort of set you on your heels for a couple nanoseconds when you first hear it. It's one of those things that, even though you know it's not really that strange, just kind of makes you tilt your head to the side and say "that's funny." It's exactly that type of experience that exemplifies this album, except instead of happening maybe once a week or month for a couple seconds, it keeps at you for a bit less than 30 minutes all at once.

For such a short album, Drone, Drugs and Harmony manages to hide its brevity pretty incredibly. Each of these songs seems to be a kind of time warp; you'll be checking the clock only to realize that none of them break five-and-a-half minutes. Maybe it's due to the interplay of the joined-at-the-hip bass and drums of Jeffrey Schlette and the guitar-tinkering and raving of guitarist/vocalist Justin Randel. There is a palpable force behind the components of the rhythm section, and they seem to be carrying just enough gravity and forward inertia to hold Randel in a kind of orbit around them. However, you can't shake the feeling that the relationship is unnervingly tenuous throughout, and the possibility of Randel's voice or guitar breaking loose and shredding the entire system is constantly looming.

There are hints of something interesting here, shadows of prog and garage punk giants sort of flitting through the background, especially on tracks like the drilling opener "March of the Dead" and the deliciously self-indulgent "Rocket to the Moon." However, what exactly is casting those shadows remains open. The sense of legitimate, fresh tinkering-for-the-sake-of-tinkering and corner-of-the-sandbox fun here is genuine, but this has surely been done before, and it's been done a lot better. There is a thin line between grand experimentation in the tradition of Faust, Neu!, and Kraftwerk, and the (at best) well-meaning but failed attempts at innovation by bands like Parts and Labor and The Fiery Furnaces, and I'm not completely sure on which side I Love You sits. But, during the hour-long trip through the four minutes of "Making Out (To Make It Big)," listening to Randel nervously and arrhythmically chanting and fuming like an overly theatrical witch doctor, it's hard not to give them the benefit of the doubt.

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