First impressions of the up-and-coming Tuff Love may lead you to think of a Scottish Elastica, though it quickly becomes apparent that these girls are like no other with their refreshingly unique style and image. ‘Resort’ is the first full album to be released by the Glaswegian duo, and is compiled of chronologically listed songs from their previously released EPs ‘Junk’, ‘Dross’ and ‘Dregs’. It’s very handy, as it allows the listener to experience the band’s journey from their foetus days (which actually weren’t that long ago considering that ‘Junk EP’ was released in May 2014) to their blossoming current selves.
Extremely likeable and undoubtedly talented, members Julie (guitar, vocals) and Suse (bass, backing vocals) have brought a fresh new sound to the table that demands to be explored. The juxtaposing flowery vocals and angrier instruments entwine beautifully together to form an unlikely partnership that is further complimented by Suse’s sweet backing vocals.
From ‘Sweet Discontent’ to ‘Carbon’, ‘Resort’ is a musical metamorphosis. The album opener is one of the grungier tracks from the compilation, and offers the listener a sample of the sound that Tuff Love had originally set out to achieve. In fact, the first half of the album in general features tracks that are a little more punk-fuelled, such as ‘Slammer’ and ‘That’s Right’, whereas the latter part leans more into the fuzz-pop style which makes you somewhat reminiscent of the 90s Britpop scene. ‘Threads’, for instance, immediately makes you want to don the sunglasses and head out for a beach party with its upbeat guitar melody and dancey bass line. ‘Amphibian’, on the other hand, is a lot mellower though not by any means less entertaining. The audible aesthetic of the track is quite aquatic, playing to its title in an interestingly experimental way. It sports possibly the catchiest chorus on the album and it doesn’t even feature any actual words! You can imagine an army of adoring fans throwing this melodic chant of ‘ah’s right back at them.
They remain very much loyal to their style during their development, but by the album’s close, there is a noticeable increase in self-confidence. The vocals, though still soft-spoken, emit strength that wasn’t quite as prominent in the earlier tracks. The album ends on a high with ‘Carbon’, the floaty vocals and spacious instrumental layers make you feel as light as a feather. At times, the guitar gives way to the bass and allows it breathe, adding nicely to the airy aesthetic.
Tuff Love is proof enough that you don’t need to over-do it with the instruments in order to create a brilliant and meaningful sound. Feeling and atmosphere trump flashy overly-complicated guitar riffs any day. If they keep up the good work, Tuff Love will undoubtedly flourish.
‘Resort’ is out now, via Lost Map Records.