Review: Thus Love live at the Louisiana, Bristol

Press photo of Thus Love by Ebru Yildiz

Thus Love by Ebru Yildiz

Thus Love prove why they’re the US’ best new export.

Life just isn’t fair, is it? If it were, Thus Love would be playing far bigger venues than Bristol’s 100-capacity Louisiana (with all due respect to the iconic room).

The self-styled ‘Queer Post-Punk’ trio released their fine debut album Memorial nearly a year ago and yet it hasn’t captured the attention of the mainstream for whatever reason (and there are surely many).

As musical injustices go, this ranks highly alongside the likes of Ed Sheeran’s ubiquity or Robson & Jerome preventing both Common People and Wonderwall from hitting number one.

Thankfully, the lack of deserved recognition appears not to have dimmed their enthusiasm, with singer Echo Marshall often struggling to keep the massive smile from her face during a concise and watertight 45-minute set. When not smiling, her expressive face generally looks pleased with herself, with good reason.

Such is the layout of the venue, the band must walk through the crowd to get to the stage and while doing so drummer Lu Racine gleefully shouts, ‘Time for a rock show’, before the icy, crisp guitar licks of Reptitioner, followed by brutish drums, commences proceedings. Like a classic guitar anthem, the track is instantly familiar while offering something new and, once again, should be known by a wider audience yet such is Thus Love’s confidence that they can dispatch it straight away.

Endearingly, Marshall’s guitar strap is attached to the instrument with masking tape, but it doesn’t distract from her axe proficiency; given she does all the heavy lifting, the wall of noise she makes is equal parts devasting and intricate.

Alongside the deft, skipping melody of In Tandem, the guitar skates and slides whereas on new track House On A Hill the sheen is swapped for unadulterated aggression (‘It feels like we’re never gonna get out of here’) while the title-track of the album is a wind tunnel of explosive indie rock.

While entirely her own, Marshall’s distinctive Vermont drawl does owe something of a debt to Jim Kerr (one of many touchstones from the 1980s), but the lyrics explore vulnerable and dark themes yet are delivered with honesty and hope.

For example, the rip-roaring Family Man covers alcoholism but ends on an optimistic final line (‘It’s alright, I’m coming in to foster every dime to every passenger’) with the musicianship of driving bass and propulsive guitar smothering the lyrical intent in a live setting. No bad thing, as it simply compels repeated listens.

In contrast to the animated Marshall, bassist Nathanial van Osdol is stoic and steadfast, but the shared looks between the group reveal a comradeship within the collective despite their different postures.

It’s best exemplified on the louche Friend, on which the trio lose themselves, or on Pith And Point (‘The first song we wrote together’) which culminates in a maelstrom of glistening electricity. Closing on the widescreen Centerfield or the strangled simplicity of Put On Dog (both tracks released post-Memorial) show that there is much, much more to come from the Brattleboro band.

With elements of goth, punk, pop and indie rock all fused to create something new, Thus Love are comfortably the best group to have come out of the US in the last two years.

As such they deserve – nay demand – your immediate attention and the inevitable affection that will follow.

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