The final track of the Loose Salute’s Getting Over Being Under is called “The Curse of Caring.” Its memoir is simple: the struggles with unfulfilled promises deep in the trenches of a relationship, long after that new sweetheart sheen wears off. Singer Lisa Billson sounds obsessive, depressed, like she’s haunted by her own feelings; the chorus, (if you could call it that,) repeats a beyond-bleak “I’ve got a curse /the curse is caring for you /and it cripples and scars /I try to drown it in the late night bars.”
Most of the record is under a curse of caring, but you’d never be able to tell from the music. Envisioned as a balmy, sun-inspired dreamscape and anchored by drummer Ian McCutcheon (who has played in such tranquilizing icons like Slowdive and Mojave 3) the Loose Salute has been entirely defined by just how comprehensively gentle they sound. They deal solely in pastels, their instruments never take an aggressive angle – it piles to the point that their self-imposed smoothness is their defining characteristic. For a band that is ostensibly about the lyrics, this causes some fairly obvious problems.
Getting Over Being Under shifts through plenty of influences with a feather-light, depolarized draw. The band shows off a penchant for dusty heartland twang with songs like “Hermosa” and “Sister Contra,” but never in huge doses. McCutcheon’s spidery voice often reminds of Elliott Smith, especially his love-tired warbling on “That’s What You Said,” but his occasional despondency never approaches the high-stakes drama of, say, “Sweet Adeline.” It can often feel like the songwriting is overly concerned with inoffensiveness, as if the band is scared of dedicating too much sonic space to uncharted territory-–instead opting to take a massive sampling of harmless ideas. It’s easy to appreciate that attempt at diversity, but the Loose Salute end up sounding like an indie pop band with a range of touchstones, a broad desire for niceness, but sadly, no concrete identity. They mix so many bright colors together the result turns grey. Their sparse moments of character come from the off-kilter wordplay of McCutcheon and Billson’s duo, but a few winning couplets can only propel a faceless band so far.