Why is love the topic that has dominated popular music for as long as there's been such a thing as popular music? Is it because love, more than any other emotion, makes us feel like singing? Or because love is something almost everyone has felt and can relate to?
Perhaps it's just because love is simply the richest possible seam of musical inspiration. A vast breadth of different emotions and experiences fall under love's general umbrella; Stephin Merritt managed to write 69 love songs, and no two of them cover the same feelings in quite the same way. That first giddy rush; getting devastatingly dumped; growing old together; getting irritated with your significant other and wondering why you got together in the first place; making love; losing your lover to someone else, or to the grave; using love as leverage to get a pair of pet zebras. Perhaps people are still writing love songs because there is a nigh-infinite number of love songs to write.
Lia Pamina is a singer-songwriter from Spain, and her first album Love is Enough delivers us a dozen lovely new love songs that sound like they fell through a wormhole from the 1960s. Pamina plays a variety of different roles over the course of this album, proving - as Stephin Merritt did before her - that love wears many masks and comes in all kinds of different flavours. In Sycamore Tree, she's an innocent young thing, leading her beau by the hand as they make their way to their favourite spot in the park; conversely, in Walking Away, she sounds jaded, singing of darkened halls, narrow streets, and jealous mind.
Opener Better Off Without You and penultimate track Talking to Myself are both break-up songs, broadly speaking. But the former is almost celebratory, with Pamina sounding like her Elefant labelmates The School as she jubilantly pulls the plug on a relationship that's past its peak, while the latter - my personal highlight, along with The Boy I Used to Know - is far more melancholy.
There's a good deal of both joy and sadness on Love is Enough, but whether Pamina is falling in love (Party in the Night), giving up on love entirely (Love), or smugly watching another woman fail to turn her man's head (Keep On Dancing), her sweet songs and the lush, expansive arrangements never cease to delight. More than that, though, this album offers a great answer to the question that asked at the beginning of this review. Why is love the topic that everyone writes songs about? Because love can mean practically anything. Because love covers zillions and zillions of different, unique experiences and feelings.
Because love is enough.