If you’ve ever heard of the Butterflies Of Love, then it’s entirely likely that your introduction to them came via the 1998 single Rob A Bank. John Peel liked it so much he applauded it on air. I found it many years later via a compilation tape a friend of mine made for me and instantly fell in love with the band.
They followed Rob A Bank with the critically acclaimed single It’s Different Now and album How To Know, yet they managed to miss breaking through to the sort of audience they truly deserved. Their woozy Americana is something that many bands try to achieve and somehow end up sounding just lazy and sloppy for the sake of it. Yet The Butterflies of Love make music for the somnambulist in all of us, and they make it absolutely perfectly.
Famous Problems is their third full length effort, following on from the somewhat erratic album The New Patient, and it could well be the album that finally garners them some well deserved attention.
Opening with Take Action, a song that initially appears to be laid back and lethargic but is in fact panicked and confused at its heart. Vocalist Jeff Greene has “feelings about everything” and evidently his feelings are as sensitive as exposed frayed nerve endings. It’s not massively obvious though, this being The Butterflies of Love. It sounds as if he’s on a hefty course of methadone to try and combat the effect of these feelings he has.
Act Deranged is as close to breezy pop as The Butterflies of Love get. Handclaps, a whirling organ, and summery backing vocals suggest that the methadone has been swapped for something far more fun. The band themselves sound far bigger than they ever have before. It may have something to do with the addition of new guitarist Jason Mills but the immaculate production of Alap Momin is what really adds a new sense of grandeur to TBoL sound.
Nowhere is this leap forward in production more obvious than on the gentle Ghostride which starts out sounding fairly plain and empty but eventually fills out with layered sounds that make the make the song the equivalent of laying down in a field staring at the clouds while ants crawl across your neck and butterflies cool you with a gentle breeze from their delicate wings.
No Sun No Moon No Stars provides evidence of a direct link between Pavement and TBoL revelling as does in atonal guitar solos while wearing a sizable lo-fi badge on its sleeve. It harks back to a time when American College bands were threatening to rule the earth, and is thankfully the only thing close to a low point on the album.
Every track here is beautifully crafted and executed. These are songs full of wit, woe, and in places there’s some hope too. If there is any justice, Famous Problems will propel these fragile Butterflies of Love towards the sky.