Review: A Loss For Words – Motown Classics

Artist: A Loss For Words
Album: Motown Classics
Genre: Pop Punk/Covers
Label: Paper + Plastick

A Loss For Words have been building quite a name for themselves over the past year. Their debut full length, The Kids Can’t Lose, propelled band from Massachusetts sensations to rising national stars and even landed them a deal with up and coming Paper + Plastick Records. Now, before the take the world by storm with a second full length of original tracks, the guys have opted to make their first label release a covers record. Its not just any covers though, its all about Motown. Yes, thats right, the sound that defined pop music forever with the use of four on the floor and emphasizing the downbeat has a new group behind the reigns and they’re taking that classic sound to a whole new place with Motown Classics.

Its a little difficult to discuss cover records because, much like stand up comedy [and really, entertainment in general], they are subjective. What I consider to be a terrible excuse for not writing new songs [Four Year Strong Explains It All], may be someone else’s treasure. Likewise, a new take on a pop staple [like Woe is Me’s Ke$ha cover] may rock my world, but seem like a sellout move to others. However, if there’s one thing we can all agree on its that covers need to reflect the artists performing them. If there’s one thing I hate in music its when a band molds their sound to reflect the cover rather than molding the cover to fit their sound. That said, A Loss For Words do exactly that with this release and so, regardless of how you feel about cover songs, its worth a listen even if just to hear what “Do You Love Me” sounds like with crunching guitars and gang vocals.

Now, I know I just defended AL4W for making the songs on Motown Classics their own, but “All Night Long,” which kicks off the album, does not start this way. The group almost directly copies the track’s classic, simple introduction, but then it builds up to a more guitar driven chorus whose pacing then continues throughout the remainder of the track. The track is solid, but it becomes abundantly clear as the album progresses that the blending of original an new was used mainly to ease listeners into the record as “Do You Love Me” and the sequential tracks become more and more AL4W stylistically. Speaking of “Do You Love Me,” the pop punk version may actually be catchier than the original. I know, I know, it seems almost heresy to speak such words, but if it doesn’t make you want to dance until you collapse, nothing will.

As the covers continue to roll out, it becomes clear that what should be examined and praised isn’t even how the band reworks the songs, but their flexibility as musicians to cater to each and every song in its own way. Where “I Want You Back” takes a straight pop punk root including gang vocals and chugs, “My Girl” is mored relaxed and consistent with the original’s pacing [except now there’s electric guitars and a slightly sped up pre-chorus]. Also, AL4W were wise enough to not only do the staples we’ve learned time and time again from use in Disney movies and other entertainment outlets, but to include some tracks that are simply Motown classics such as “Tears of a Clown.” This allows the group a little bit more room for artistic interpretation, but also introduces their [mainly younger] audience to some of the best pop songs they never knew.

I’ll admit to having my concerns with Motown Classics when I first heard of its creation. I questioned why a band on the verge of being gigantic would take the covers route, but now I’m swallowing each and every line I spoke because this record rocks. Not only did they make some of the most well known pop songs of all time feel alive again, but they did so in a respectful way that will most likely lead young music fans to discovering the ultimate vault of great pop music. Motown impacted music so much that many claim its the US equivalent to The Beatles’ impact on music and I tend to agree wholeheartedly. The way multiple generations learned what catchy music was and how to write hooks stems from the tracks AL4W have covered here and they cover them quite well. It may seem weird to say, but Motown Classics may just be the underground Summer anthem record. Its loud, catchy, and fun as can be without once turning too serious to dance to. You need to hear this record.

Also, some may hate on the record for lacking substance, but that’s the point. Summer isn’t the time for deep thought and introversion, but rather the time for fun and sing-a-longs which is exactly what this record provides. A soundtrack to Summer built on classic pop tunes.

Score: 9.5/10
Review written by: James Shotwell

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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