Without a doubt, The Memories is the perfectly basic choice of moniker for the mild-mannered side project of Erik Gage and Kyle Handley, both of Portland punk band White Fang. Simple, laid-back, and unpretentious, the seventeen tracks of their latest release, Love is the Law, are tailor-made for lazy Sundays spent lounging in last night’s pajamas, nursing last night’s hangover. As a result, Love is the Law is just what you’d expect it to be: sort of silly, slightly charming, and all together pleasant– for a listen or two, at least.
You know that one friend who constantly makes the same dick joke over and over again, but deep down, he’s such an endearing guy that you just can’t help but keep him around? He’s exactly who Gage and Handley both imitate on Love is the Law; they could be characters, but most likely they’re just playing themselves. “Go Down on You” opens the album, and no, there isn’t some hidden message here among its pretty melodies. The track is precisely what you’re imagining; our narrator is so great at giving oral sex– or so he claims– he just needs to tell the whole world about it via song. Luckily, “En Espanol” is far better, where a borrowed Strokes beat is replicated on what sounds like a toy drum machine made for toddlers. Still, the track is basic, fun, and carefree; you can almost feel the So Cal ocean breeze on your face.
Sometimes, when an album is as lengthy as seventeen tracks, there’s a lot to love and a lot to hate. That’s definitely the case on Love is the Law, although both sides are represented rather equally. “You Need A Big Man” is so utterly ridiculous, it could be the product of a less clever Flight of the Conchords (R.I.P.). Lines like “you need a big man thick and a big man long” are barely even music, but straight-up comedy. On “Love is a Dream” the duo take a stab at new wave, but still maintain their signature benevolent approach. “She’s So Tight”– despite its potentially cringe-worthy title– is relatively benign and, dare I say it, even enjoyable. Like with all of Love is the Law, there isn’t much to it, but what the track does offer– carefree strumming, billowy crooning, and a 50s style melody– can be pretty catchy, even against your better judgement.
On surprisingly sweet “I Wanna Be That Guy,” The Memories sum up their whole schtick (if you can call it that) in just ten lines. When Gage repeats, “I wanna be that guy/I wanna be that high,” you pretty much get the gist of the whole record. Love is the Law is about love, heartbreak, weed, and little else. They’re tracks probably not made for listen after listen, but that’s okay; these guys have found a niche, and it’s something like a cross between the Beach Boys and the Lonely Island. And there might even be a compliment in there somewhere.