Love is for Lovers is the fourth album from Edmonton's Real Sickies -- assuming you count last year's amazing, digital-only release Quarantined (as I do). But since Quarantined was literally created in one week, I have no objection to anyone who considers Love is for Lovers to be the "proper" follow-up to 2019's Out of Space. Real Sickies had been working on some of the songs on Love is for Lovers since even before Out of Space was released. So it's no surprise that there's a noticeable progression between the two albums. The press releases I've read in advance of Love is for Lovers indicated that the new album would lean more "pop" than previous releases. And clearly I had no objection to that!
Out now on Montreal's Stomp Records, Love is for Lovers is by no means a radical shift from Real Sickies' well-established punk/power pop style. But it definitely shows a big advancement from the band's previous releases in terms of songwriting, production, and stylistic variety. Basically, this is the album where Real Sickies take it to the next level. Fear not: there are definitely some "classic" sounding Real Sickies numbers on this record. Songs like "Communication Breakdown", "Least Favorite of Mine", and the super-catchy title track are quintessential poppy punk tunes that hit that sweet spot between the Ramones and Teenage Head. But on this record, Real Sickies demonstrate that they can do way more than that. The songs on Love is for Lovers range from ripping punkers ("Sickies Don't Talk", "Tear It All Down") to absolutely marvelous pure pop tunes ("Destructive Nights", "Hold On Baby"). And then there are some songs that really surprised me. I'm catching Barracudas vibes from "I Think of Sunshine". "Give And Take", a duet featuring country singer Lucette, sounds unlike anything this band has done before. And while this is by far the most "pop" Real Sickies album yet, that doesn't mean it's lightweight. Songs touch on subjects such as the ups and downs of friendships, personal growth and regression, addiction, and the very nature of love itself.
If Real Sickies were content to repeat themselves, they probably could have stopped after Get Well Soon. But they've managed to do interesting things with each successive record. Out of Space was their "pop-punk" record, and Quarantined was one of the finest "pandemic albums" released in any genre of music last year. With Love is for Lovers, the band has embraced its pop side like never before without losing the fundamental appeal of a Real Sickies album. Hit up the group's Bandcamp to snag the pink vinyl with white splatter or white vinyl with red splatter!