In the infinite barf bag of Clichés About Life remain a few factoids regarding music and its effect on the human brain. “Music is tied to memory” is one of them. Whether it’s that ’90s hit that reminds you of a cinematic road trip, or a bedroom-recorded track unearthed from the dusty recesses of your iTunes that recalls fetal-position heartbreak, some chord progressions and vocal sighs are unavoidably nostalgic. The Memories understand this, and they ooze that possibility of emotion into a blender and churn out garage rock milkshakes with twee-pop rainbow sprinkles.
That’s not to say The Memories are some savants of human emotion. They’re not mind readers, and they don’t care about the time you romantically sucked face in the middle of a blizzard any more than you care about your cousin’s eczema. The Memories are those guys in your building who sound like they’re doing cartwheels at 4 a.m., and are the reason your recycling bin is always brimming with tall boys. They’re the guys in college who proved you didn’t need abs and the jaw of George Clooney to get tail, and by the way, do you smoke blunts? Now they’re the prime ministers of nostalgia; the boys with the key to your frontal lobe, now known as the Instagram of your mind. They know what they want, and because what they want is weed, beer, and a mouth on their mouths, it’s a good guess that you want the same things.
Love Is The Law is like a hazy memory I don’t actually remember: one of late nights at the sock-hop sharing a double-strawed fountain Coke with a nearly hairless, recently post-pubescent boy. Love, infatuation, sex, penis size, sexts, (including unreciprocated sexts) are the backbone of the LP. On the album opener “I Wanna Be That Guy,” The Memories plead for affection they already have, because you’re already smitten. Rikky Gage’s voice soars into goofy falsettos, especially when he yelps “I wanna be that hiiiigh,” against cherry Slurpee guitars and thwacking drums. The Mems also dabble in teen heartthrob sleaze pop (“Blow My Mind”) mopey loner pop (“Wasted All The Time”) and clangy surf pop (“En Espanol”), but never veer too far from simple structures and classic sounds—the intelligence of the album is rooted not in its musical prowess, but in its humor and hormonal charm.
Love Is The Law sounds like what would happen if The Memories took Lou Reed’s “serious musician” face and splattered it with neon-glow paint after a particularly inspirational train ride. “Go Down On You” is the dreamiest ode to cunnilingus I’ve ever heard, with a heel-clicking guitar and nervous hand-claps. If you were to listen to the track without any preconceived notion of what it was about, you’d probably write it off as a tropical-fantasy love poem, rather than a retelling of what it’s like to eat pussy. It’s this sort of off-key juxtaposition that acts like a sly wink to the listener, letting you know it’s okay to just enjoy the absurdity of it without falling into an existential k-hole. “You Need A Big Man” has Gage taking on a strangely indecipherable accent (unless that’s just how his baritone sounds) mingled with busty whistles, hollow drums and backup vocals like a chorus of human banjos.
It’s not like The Memories are doing anything mind-blowing here. There’s no god-like guitar work or drum beats that cause hot flashes. No one’s soloing in a spinning cube somewhere above Tacoma. Heck, they probably wrote most of Love Is The Law while sitting on couches, sticking gummy worms up their nostrils. Missteps happen, (as they tend to when you’ve been clinging to Mary Jane all night and you’re a little lovesick, anyway) but they’re brief, like the few moments in the syrupy sweet “Like Riker” when everyone seems bored, or the sleepy vocal drop-off in the chorus of “After Party (4 AM).” But would you kick someone out of your bed because they snore-coughed once or twice? I doubt it.
Do you remember the first time you did shrooms and stood in a lake with a shirt, but no pants on, and called your mom to tell her you bought 13 bags of Cool Ranch Doritos? Or the first time your mouth touched someone’s genitalia and they disappeared into the night like some kind of Navy SEAL stealth fighter? How about that time you made dinner with your crush and you ended up getting in a food fight like a scene from some goddamn Nora Ephron movie? Well, now you do. And you can thank The Memories for it.