Love Is All, having tidied up on its second album, "A Hundred Things Keep Me Up at Night," sounds like a contemporary pop-punk band, though with hints of pre-Beatles rock-and-roll. While Josephine Olausson's voice resembles Bjork's more than Darlene Love's, the Swedish quintet's basic sax bleats, dinky keyboard riffs and be-bop-a-lula harmonies recall a simpler time.
All of that was audible Saturday night at the Rock & Roll Hotel, but just barely. Bashing through such songs as "Sea Sick" and "Movie Romance" -- with nearly every ingredient at the same volume and pitch -- the winningly unstudied band emphasized its kinship with such female-led European post-punk forebears as the Slits, Liliput and Essential Logic. Energetically declaimed and heavily reverbed, Olausson's vocals were central to the band's steel-wool sound, which also featured scratchy rhythm guitar and shouted backup vocals.
As its title suggests, "A Hundred Things Keep Me Up at Night" includes tales of dread and anxiety. Love Is All, however, doesn't seem capable of brooding. Jettisoning all the slower material in its repertoire -- save for a puckish cover of A Flock of Seagulls' "I Ran (So Far Away)" -- the quintet played fast, loose and barely 40 minutes. Maybe longer sets are one of the things that keep Olausson up at night.
-- Mark Jenkins (Dec. 2008)