“Are you in love?” asks Lydia Night on the opening moments of The Regrettes’ second album. “Do you feel it in your stomach? Does it twist and turn and scream and burn, and start to make you cry, but you like it?” It’s the lone moment of quiet reflection before a fast-paced succession of rock’n’roll numbers dissect the giddiness of falling hard, along with the ensuing fallout when harsh reality grabs a needle and punctures the endorphin-bubble.
Two years after the release of their debut album, ‘Feel Your Feelings Fool!’, The Regrettes’ original drummer and bassist both decided to leave the band (albeit amicably) in rapid succession. The dynamic of the band inevitably shifted as two new recruits – Brooke Dickson and Drew Thomsen – entered the fold, and having weathered that period of change, ‘How Do You Love?’ also finds itself focused on the shifts that take place within relationships.
Nodding towards the mischievous streak of ’60s yé-yé pop [the peppy French musical movement] and the garage grit of North Pacific riot grrl, Night’s lyrics are smart and self-effacing. “I used to think that Romeo was full of shit, and The Notebook was just my favourite chic flick,” she sings on ‘Pumpkin’, eye-rolling her own skepticism in a song that’s presumably named after a pet name. The irony isn’t lost on Night. Nobody – not even the eternally anti-soppy brigade – is immune to infatuation.
As time goes on, and side-splitting nights spent laughing on the kitchen floor get traded in for the mundane plod of daily routine, this becomes a break-up album instead. By the spiky ‘Dead Wrong’, The Regrettes are on edge: “It’s wake up time,” announces Night. “Get out of my mind”.
The Los Angeles band have a knack for propulsive, playful garage-rock. It’s a sound that ‘How Do You Love?’ well and truly corners. At times, its a record that feels slightly lacking in range as a consequence; as this album chugs on, Night’s wittiest turns of phrase can’t help but take centre stage against a familiar backdrop.When The Regrettes shake things up, they’re most ferocious. The snarled asides of ‘Has It Hit You’, the echoing sing-song of ‘Colouring Book’ and the eerie narration of that opening track: these are the moments at which the band feels truly unstoppable.