More astute RFC readers may have checked out our contributors page. If you've done so, you've probably seen that all the RFC staffers have a cute, eye catching little bio that they wrote themselves. Rachel Angres, for instance, is an "idiosyncratic thumb war champion". Shani? Well, she's a "Texan, photog, writer, stone fox." As for me? "If Amber's life was an album, it would be November Birthday by Lightning Love because she can't help havin' a good time."
Interestingly enough, despite the truth of that statement, Lightning Love has had nary a mention on RFC or, well, on most any blog anywhere. And I'm here to tell you why that's a crying shame.
Lightning Love is universally lovable. Seriously, there's nothing not to adore about these kids. They're a band of cute, young Detroit kids who sing some of the catchiest and honest electro pop that's ever been made.
You see, I am not an electro pop fan. And, as we've covered before, it takes a pretty special female singer to win over the cold heart of Amber Valentine. So certainly an electro-pop band fronted by a female should be kryptonite to my ears, right? Well, to my surprise, Lightning Love isn't so much kryptonite as it is audible bliss.
Lightning Love is what's called "the entire package". To quote a recent Mezzic review of the band's debut, November Birthday, "It’s amazing that Lightning Love isn’t better known because they truly have a winning formula. Diehl is cute as a button and plays the keyboard better than most the girls in electro-pop bands that Pitchfork is raving about these days. Couple that with the fact that both her band mates are foxy gents and you’ve got the “attractive” part of the market cornered. (For those keeping score at home, those gents answer to Ben Collins, who slings guitar, and Aaron Diehl, Leah’s drumming brother who occasionally lends his voice to accompany big sis.) The music is catchy and can soundtrack a mean dance party. The lyrics are honest, earnest, and relatable. And Diehl’s voice? It’s the most unique voice this side of Joanna Newsom, only instead of being backed by harp during a sixteen minute ambitious composition, it’s backed by searingly infectious keyboards! Is there anything not to love about the Michigan trio? Answer: No. No, there is not."
By the time Lightning Love's album wraps itself up with the stand out "Good Time", you feel as if you know Diehl as well as your best friend because it's hard to tell whether her lyrics are deeply personal or if she's created an ingenious concept album about a twenty-something girl who can't get things right no matter how hard she tries.
These days Best Coast is the poster child for every indie girl out there but the fact of the matter is that Leah Diehl should have that honor. Everywhere Best Coast falls short, Lightning Love exceeds. Instead of regurgitating the same rhymes and subjects over and over again, Diehl uses her (albeit brief) songs to cover everything from troubles with monogamy ("Good Time") to problems with drinking ("Friends") to her own inability to love ("Warmer Days Ahead"). Nearly every track on the album is a perfect example of indie pop at it's finest and pleasant surprises abound.
"Work Today" starts the album out slow and confessional, lulling you into a false sense of security, preparing you for another "woe is me" girl with a piano. "Everyone I Know", however, shocks you out of that with it's hip swinging melodies juxtaposed with self deprecating lyrics about how Diehl would rather sit in bed, watch tv, and drink alone than be social because "what's the point in being good if I'm never out and never seen?" From there, November Birthday hits it's stride with three of the album's standout tracks right in a row and when brother Aaron joins in on "Girls Are Always Wrong", you really realize that Lightning Love is a unique breed of indie pop. Everything that bands like Au Revoir Simone and Freezepop lack, Lighning Love has in not only spades, but also hearts, clubs, and diamonds as well. This is due in part to Aaron Diehl's occasional vocals and Collins' remarkable guitar skills but the tracks are always anchored by Leah Diehl's atypical voice. What do I mean by atypical? Listen for yourself!
November Birthday may have only been released in 2009 but Lighting Love is already hard at work at their follow up, which just so happens to be my most anticipated album of the year. You see, Diehl has an uncanny ability to write songs about my life. Well, I mean, of course she's writing about her life but it just so happens that her life eerily resembles mine and nothing in the world for me is more cathartic than poppin' in some Lightning Love and jamming out all the whilst feeling less like a singular freak.
No one's proud the times they fuck up but when Diehl sings about them suddenly you realize that, to quote the gal herself, "we all make mistakes". Personally, the one and only time I cheated, "Good Time" was nothing less than my personal scampin' anthem ("I'm too young not to mess around; It's just what happens when you're out of town.") and, well, nearly every night of my life, nothing consoles me the way "Friends" does as I too have a habit of kicking off my shoes in inappropriate places, vomiting in public, and waking up only to find all my friends hate me for reasons I don't remember. Pathetic? Kind of. But I swear, Diehl makes it sound adorable.
The trend of "Lightning Love Songs that Orchestrate Amber's Life" is continuing on to their next album, particularly with "So Easy" and a simple duet between Collins and Diehl that perfectly encapsulates my love life. As Collins repeats "I don't care if you're ugly, as long as you love me", Diehl lilts "If you don't care that I'm lonely, why don't you just hold me?" In fact, one of the main reasons I have yet to send a mix CD to the boy I'm currently head over heels for is because no song sums up my feelings for him except for that very track and quite frankly, a mix made for him without that song would just be unacceptable because it wouldn't get the point across that I don't care about anything other than wanting to be his girl, so long as he can deal with the baggage that comes along with.
So why does RFC think you should know Lightning Love? Catchy melodies, cute kids, affectingly self-deprecating lyrics and a beat you can throw a wicked dance party to. What's not to love?!
Please support this darling band by buying their album and telling Diehl herself that you want to see her tour outside of Ohio and Michigan! And while you're at it, read the whole review (And hear that song "Friends" we fussed about earlier) at Mezzic!