CD Review of You’re Awful I Love You by Ludo
Recommended if you like
The Presidents of the United States of America, Ok Go, Spiraling
Label
Island
Ludo:
You’re Awful I Love You

Reviewed by James B. Eldred

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L
udo is a very weird band. Sometimes they’re like Weezer, dripped in self-loathing and despair about unrequited love. Other times they’re so Goth they’re dead, waxing poetic about their soon-to-be-dead lover, who’s probably locked in their trunk right now. And other times they’re even further out there, embracing prog-rock conventions to craft magical tales of time-traveling scientists, vengeful gods and Satanic legions of the undead.

And other times they just like to sing about “Girls on Trampolines.”

That was the sign-off to their 2003 independent self-titled debut, a well-crafted release filled with wonderfully inventive pop songs that would be at home on the soundtrack to the next American Pie home video release.

Then, two years later, they released the EP Broken Bride, the previously mentioned epic rock opera that told the tale of time travel and zombie hordes under the tutelage of Satan. That was an insane record -- imagine Green Day scrapping the political content of American Idiot and singing about dragons. It’s that messed up. It’s also brilliant, and hopefully will someday be discovered for the masterpiece that it is.

Ludo

Until that happens, Ludo’s best bet for the mainstream recognition that they so rightfully deserve is their major-label debut You’re Awful I Love You, a stand out collection of songs that somehow manages to encompass everything this amazingly diverse and bizarre band is about.

On Ludo’s debut, its strength was in self-loathing love songs like the hilariously vindictive “Good Will Hunting By Yourself,” and this trend continues early on with You’re Awful, I Love You. Ludo frontman Andrew Volpe’s subjects are frequently evil women that he can’t break free from, leading to wonderfully wacky metaphors like “You’re an office park without any trees, corporate and cold” on “Love Me Dead,” in which he seemingly can’t figure out if his girlfriend is giving him great head or sucking the very life out him. His combination of self-hate and his occasional utter contempt for the opposite sex would put Rivers Coumo to shame (minus all the Asian chicks).

Eventually Volpe gets over his succubus exes and instead focuses on other horrors. On “Lake Pontchartrain,” the Louisiana waterhole is transformed into a horrific living creature that devours crawfish-eating locals whole. Someone should buy the movie rights to this hideously creepy ghost story ASAP.

Then there’s the more realistic terror of the so-Goth-it’s-dead “The Horror of Our Love.” It’s a love song, a love song about a about a girl he loves so much that he has to track her down, kill her, and eventually grind up her bones and eat her. My Chemical Romance’s “Helena” is “You Light Up My Life” in comparison. And then there’s “Go Getter Greg,” a slightly more humorous but still inherently creepy tune about an obsessive prick who desperately wants to get with his hot neighbor.

Ludo’s only downfall on You’re Awful I Love You is probably that they’re so good at being dark, disturbing or just plain weird that when they try to lighten things up a bit, it just becomes boring. Upbeat, healthy love songs like “Topeka” and “Scream, Scream, Scream” are good-but-not-great, and “In Space,” Volpe’s attempt at sci-fi storytelling, is drab and dull when compared to the utter horror of “Lake Pontchartrain.” There’s nothing here that resembles the abject silliness of their first album, which is kind of a bummer. There’s humor to be had on You’re Awful I Love You, it’s just all attached to songs about cannibalism, stalkers and suicide. No “Girls On Trampolines” here.

Much of You’re Awful I Love You is dark and morbid, but it’s also undeniably catchy and fun. Ludo may be the happiest bunch of fellows ever to craft pop songs about mutilation and mass murder. For that alone, they’re worth checking out.

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