At the very dawn of the 90s, Love Child’s debut 7” made a splash on the burgeoning scene of shambolic bands and lo-fi recordings. Back then, they were mentioned in the same breath as Pavement, Sebadoh, or Beat Happening. But Love Child’s two great albums and sparkling singles have become the stuff of record collectors, unavailable vis streaming and out of print, until now. Never Meant to Be: 1988-1993 pulls from these releases and some unreleased radio sessions, unearthing a trove of lost gems by a band that could be the bestof all of the 90s buried treasures.
Culled from their smashing debut 7-inch, their two full-length albums, another great single and some unreleased radio sets (including a Peel Session), ‘Never Meant To Be’ has catchy hooks, gritty noise, sneakily-deft playing, brainy but blunt lyrics, and lots of other awesome stuff. Love Child were part of lo-fi’s beginnings, but also had the NYC pedigree to absorb predecessors like the Velvet Underground, the Voidoids and Teenage Jesus and the Jerks. (Their swirl of brightness, brains, and brawn led Byron Coley to liken them to a fantasy VU made up of Moe Tucker, Doug Yule, and Angus MacLise).
Will Baum started Love Child while a student at Vassar College, bringing on classmates Rebecca Odes and Alan Licht. At first, Baum wrote the majority of the songs, bringing a Modern Lovers-like garage-pop attack to the band’s 19-song whirlwind debut album Okay? (Homestead, 1991) But Odes and Licht contributed songs as well, each with a distinct sonic fingerprint (One fan, Kurt Cobain, allegedly predicted Love Child would become the Fleetwood Mac of the 90’s).
All three members were happy to trade roles and instruments from song to song, but they also had some specific chops. Licht was a bit of a guitar prodigy, having taught himself how to tap like Eddie Van Halen, but versed enough in punk to know simplicity could be just as powerful. Odes’ bellowing bass was equally prominent, and her vocals could veer quickly from sweet to snarling, like Kim Deal or Georgia Hubley with a jagged edge. Take “Asking for It” (taken here from a 1992 Peel Session), whose righteous slam makes it a proto-riot-grrrl anthem.
Not long after Okay?, Baum left, replaced by drummer Brendan O’Malley. Love Child’s sound evolved too, toward a dronier zone not far from the bubbling haze of then-nascent shoegazers like My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive. On their next album Witchcraft (Homestead, 1992), smart hooks stretched into deeper ruminations, without any loss of brashness. “Stumbling Block” turned a riff into a minimalist mantra, while “Wait and See” took two melodies–one sung by Licht, one by Odes–and weaved them into the band’s most hypnotic moment on record.
Love Child didn’t last long past ‘Witchcraft’, though it’s not 100% sure that they’re fully done (Alan and Rebecca have been rumored to be playing together again). But until that comeback emerges, ‘Never Meant To Be’ should satisfy fans and newcomers for a long time.
– Marc Masters
Written by: jamric
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