– Square One (Live Poets Society)

Live Poets Society scores with solid debut album, Square One

By oceanpark, on

This review is from: Square One (Audio CD)
Even though the songs on this album were probably inspired by a variety of relationships and events, Square One holds together as a concept album, fairly closely following the arc of a universal, composite relationship. It goes from the giddiness of falling in love to the blossoming of a mature relationship, then follows feelings of mistrust and betrayal back again to hope and confidence.

Musically, Square One is a delight. The variety of moods depicted in the songs reflects the diversity of the music and instruments used. The musicians/singers are excellent, and they seem to really enjoy their work. The solid bass (Rob Weenink) and drums (Frank Schuuring) complement the beautifully intricate guitarwork of JeeWee Donkers and gorgeous keys and flutework of Peter Holen.

“Sucker for Your Smile” starts the album on a light, upbeat note and gets the blood flowing. At its heart, it’s a sweet anthem to new love (“I don’t eat or drink, just fantasize/Looking into your big brown eyes”). The next song, “Right By Your Side,” initially sounds light, but then it becomes grounding, hopeful, and reassuring (“I’m so happy that I found you/I’ll never leave you, I’m your man”). Then “Draw Me Closer” slows things down and gets intimate (“Stroke me, kiss me, tell me you missed me…”).

“Pretty Complicated” picks things back up, and we see that the relationship has deepened: they trust each other enough to be intimate AND to fight and to be light and funny, all at once. Next, “Both of Us” slows things down again and gets serious. Then “Comfort of Your Arms,” based on thoughtful imagery, expresses longing and trust.

Next comes “Who Do You Think You’re Fooling?” with the dawning realization of a partner’s betrayal. But it’s a fascinating mix, because the song still manages to be gentle and vulnerable and pleads for the best (“Don’t go out for no good reason/ And stay away all night/ Just see my eyes, just feel my arms/ I can make you feel alright”).

The mood then changes drastically. Here the nervous energy and anger and revenge fantasy of “Rub It In” takes over. The riff is irresistible. A delightfully cathartic piece of music to play LOUD.

“Second Life Online” keeps things raw, with the story of a woman who feels terrifyingly vulnerable in the real world, but who finds refuge in her more easily controlled online life (“Where she’s in charge and she can hold the key”).

This leads into “Out Here in the Cold,” an instant classic that perfectly expresses the anguish and desperation of someone who, when his partner leaves, just can’t believe what’s hit him. The words come tumbling out of him as he’s frantically “trying to figure out what I did wrong.”

In contrast, the man in “Square One” has already gone through all of the raw emotions and has worn himself out. He’s drained and has only enough energy to say what’s absolutely necessary. He’s resigned, but ultimately he holds onto a sliver of hope that he will be forgiven and taken back (“I want to tell you that I’m sorry/ I want to start all over new/ I want to go back to square one/ I want to come back home to you”).

The album culminates with the lovely “Trust In You,” a delicious song with such lush piano work that you simply have to stop whatever you’re doing and listen. A beautiful ending to an exciting, well-rounded album.

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