Thursday, April 26, 2007


[January 16, 2008 update: The following feature holds little more than historical significance. Lovers Electric, the duo in question, have changed their sound and you will no longer find the tracks described herein on iTunes. I decided not to remove this feature because it is one of the few in-depth pieces published on the duo before they reinvented themselves. Enjoy.]

One of my favorite contemporary artists is the delightfully quirky Australian pop singer and songwriter Butterfly Boucher. When Butterfly announced to her MySpace friends that her sister Eden has a band worth checking out, I wasn’t sure what to expect; after all, Butterfly was hardly in a position to judge Eden’s act objectively. Luckily, I needn’t have worried. Eden and her husband David do indeed “make beautiful music together” under the name Lovers Electric. Imagine your favorite ‘80s pop songs played by a leading ‘90s alternative band and filtered through the garage rock revivalism of the 2000s. This is pretty much what you get on the duo’s self-titled debut album, available worldwide exclusively through iTunes. Hard-charging guitar-based rockers, bouncy pop sing-alongs, and gorgeous piano-driven ballads are all characterized by breathy vocals, impeccable harmonies, and a gritty production that stands in gloriously sharp contrast to the smoothly polished sound so prevalent in today’s music.

David and Eden write catchy, memorable, melodic songs whose lyrics contain much wisdom and insight into the inner workings of human relationships and the troubled state of today’s world. “I Don’t Know” makes the assertion, “Everything happens for a reason, I know/Some of it matters, and some things are best left alone”—a simple statement, but all the more powerful for it. With lines like “We can’t stay to fade away; the end is not a means for me,” the epic “Is It Over?” is a perfect anthem for anyone who’s ever been in a relationship that teetered on the edge for a seeming eternity, while “Won’t Give In” and “Not Good Enough” make us all take a look at ourselves and rethink what we have come to accept as correct in life: “Our eyes are closed, but we’re awake as we make our choice—this is not good enough.” Towards the end of the album, the Lovers throw listeners a real curveball with “Whatever You Want,” whose jaunty pub-pop feel and multilayered storyline prove that these awesome Aussies can adapt their distinctive sound to surprising musical and lyrical settings. David and Eden have been continent-hopping in their bid for musical world domination, but they generously agreed to stay still long enough to do an e-mail interview with me. Since they’d already answered all the usual questions for a fine web feature by radio station KGRL (from which I obtained my background information), I thought I’d indulge my knack for making inquiries that are a little out of the ordinary. Here are the results:

SJ: As I understand it, David plays guitar and keyboards and sings background, and Eden sings lead. Who are some of the other musicians heard on the album? Are they part of the touring band for full band gigs?

David: Well there is really only one other main musician beside the two of us on the album. Our good friend Fuzz Townshend played drums on all the tracks. He also is part of our live band. We also had someone play cello and someone play harp for us on a couple of tracks.

SJ: Your songwriting process is a joint effort, but Eden, you've taken credit for composing many of the melodies. Do you think those melodies have a distinctive or unusual character because you don't play an instrument?

Eden: I've always done a lot of singing, but never have played much music, so I'm sure it has an effect. But we both write the melodies, depends on the day...

SJ: Most of your songs sound happy, but few of them are! Is this deliberate?

David: I guess it's just how they turn out, we like energetic music but I think life is bittersweet, I guess our music is probably a reflection of how we see life.

SJ: Songs like "Won't Give In" and "Not Good Enough" paint a picture of today's world as an almost Huxleyan dystopia in which people would rather be brainwashed and overly medicated than truly enlightened. Is there a specific philosophical or even religious basis to these sentiments?

David: I definitely don't trust society, quite often the things that are generally accepted are not the things which are most helpful for people always. I think there's a temptation for us these days to fix problems with medication rather than lifestyle. It's not always that simple but there's a lot of people struggling and looking for ways to fix it up.

SJ: A lot of the tunes on the album address the trials and tribulations of human relationships, especially those that are failing to live up to their potential—a theme I have been all too familiar with lately! Is there any particular reason this is such a prominent theme in the album?

Eden: Well, a few of the songs were written at a time when lots of break-ups were happening around us. But we would like to think there is still hope in the words, even when it's sad.

SJ: "Whatever You Want" is so different from anything else on the album. How did that one come about?

Eden: That’s our oldest song in fact, it was written before any of the others. But it's a song we have always loved and wanted to put it on our first album. But that’s probably why it sounds so different.

SJ: Tell me about how the songs were arranged. Is there one person who had most of the ideas or did the arrangements emerge in a less formal manner?

David: Well, sometimes I'll write a whole song myself, sometimes we'll collaborate entirely. But with arranging and producing, it's very much a team thing. We are both very involved and a song isn't finished unless we are both happy with its arrangement.

SJ: Why release the album exclusively through iTunes?

Eden: It just kind of happened that we were in the UK/Europe iTunes office with our manger and got to know the guys in iTunes. So we released our album with them. Also, it's a far greater leap to release and distribute CDs into shops and we are just not that well known to make that worthwhile.

SJ: The album has a decidedly unpolished sound, which in my opinion works brilliantly in its favor. Was this intentional or just the result of the small-budget, DIY nature of the project?

David: Yeah, we really like that about the album too. It did have a lot to do with the equipment we had. All we had was a very small studio, a laptop and a few other bits and pieces, our mobile studio.

Many thanks to David and Eden for the interview.

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Copyright © 2007 S.J. Dibai. All rights reserved.