Singer Lydia Night said focusing on emotions can be a good way to distract from these chaotic times
While social and political turmoil continue to dominate current headlines, the music world has increasingly started to shift the focus toward love.
Wilco recently announced its forthcoming album, Ode to Joy, the news accompanied by lead single “Love Is Everywhere (Beware)” and a statement from singer Jeff Tweedy that read, in part, “There MUST be more love than hate. Right?! … I think I should be striving to contribute more love outside my comfortable sphere of family and friends.”
And now Los Angeles punk quartet the Regrettes is readying for the Aug. 9 release of How Do You Love?, a 15-track concept record on which singer Lydia Night and Co. explore every facet of the emotion, from the smitten, doe-eyed first blush of attraction to the shattered days that follow the collapse of a once-torrid relationship.
“I think people need love right now,” said Night, who joins guitarist Genessa Gariano, bassist Brooke Dickson and drummer Drew Thomsen in concert at the Basement on Sunday, Aug. 4. “I mean, people always do, but right now there’s so much crazy shit going on that we can’t control, so focusing on personal emotions is a great escape, almost.”Get news and entertainment delivered to your inbox: Sign up for our daily newsletter
The album opens with the sound of a beating heart and a recited poem. “When you see yourself in the future, frail and gray,” Night intones, “who do you want beside you when you wake to start your day? … Are you in love?”
In short order, the frontwoman is inviting listeners closer on “California Friends,” a buoyant slice of slick, L.A. punk. She then throws the window open to sing with the birds and the bees on the stripped-down, emotionally raw “Coloring Book” — a song that lives up to its title, the musicians taking the loose early outline and gradually filling it in as the track progresses, coloring the final stretch with fuzzy, urgent guitars and heart-skipping drums. Later, Night bounds through “Dress Up,” an infectious romp that can’t quite obscure its jaded core.
“I know you’re hurting/You need a Band-Aid,” Night sings before going on to admit to her role in the damage. “You got a cut/And I was the blade.”
While the emotions, at times, trend heavy, the music is often weightless, built on neon riffs and adrenalized tempos, and Night maintains a sense of humor throughout. Witness “Pumpkin,” where the singer, her senses awakened by new romance, starts to find the resonance in cultural artifacts she’d previously dismissed. “I used to think that Romeo was full of shit,” she sings atop a gently heaving musical backdrop that suggests 1960s girl-group pop, “and ‘The Notebook’ was just my favorite chick flick.”
Night said the concept only started to take shape after the band finished its first round of recording, when she stepped back and picked up on a common thread running through the completed songs. “I noticed there was the possibility … for a bigger story to be told, so we definitely leaned into that more with the writing. It just felt right. It’s what the songs wanted to be,” she said. “They’re about multiple relationships I’ve been in, one primarily, but the songs are about experiences I’ve had, or exaggerated versions, at least.”
This includes lines about baking enough chocolate chip cookies to feed all of L.A. as a means of keeping the focus off of heartbreak, which Night has been known to do on occasion, sampling recipes scrounged online rather than one passed down within her family. “I feel like people can identify with that. Even if it’s not baking, it’s that idea of distracting yourself in any weird way possible,” she said.
And if it’s not cookies, it’s music, which has long had a restorative power, leading many to nurse heartbreak with songs by artists like Patsy Cline and Joni Mitchell, as Night does at one low point on How Do You Love?
“There are so many women who I feel have been my therapist through their music,” Night said. “What we’re trying to provide for people is what I get from so many artists, which is this idea that we’re not alone.”