by Pat Moran
THE LOVE LANGUAGE
Raleigh's Love Language started not so much as a one-man band as one hot mess. Reeling from a brutal breakup, singer/songwriter/multi-tasker Stuart McLamb hit the booze, hit the skids and landed briefly in jail. Licking his wounds, McLamb recorded a pile of no-budget pop gems that inadvertently became a debut LP. That such miserable beginnings would yield gorgeous ballads and bouncy guitar pop is a minor miracle. That McLamb's songwriting chops are highlighted rather than hindered by a Phil Spector meets Animal Collective wall of gauze - well, that's merely icing on the cake. Described as Big Star meets Guided by Voices on their way to The Band's Big Pink getaway, The Love Language's bubbly concoctions make room for swells of strings, cavernous drums and waves of surf guitar. Touring with a full band, and with sophomore LP Libraries out, McLamb has recently stepped out of his lo-fi comfort zone. The Love Language's new material retains the band's Merseybeat exuberance while gaining a smooth Burt Bacharach-styled sheen. When it all clicks, The Love Language chugs along with addictive pop perfection, suggesting Paul McCartney fronting Arcade Fire at a 1950s sock-hop. With Gross Ghost and The Toddlers. $12-$14. Nov. 17, 10:30 p.m. Visulite Theatre, 1615 Elizabeth Ave. 704-358-9200.