Unambitious and derivative. Those are charges that Liverpool’s musicians have been held against in the past decade. Generally, this absurd assertion is supported by an ungainly mention of The Beatles which is expected to be swallowed as concrete evidence. Yet, over the past year, even the most sceptical music journalists have had their heads turned by a flurry of undeniably inventive music from Liverpool; the latest in this spate of innovative bands with a brilliant, worldly potential being LOVED ONES.
Loved Ones were birthed last year when Nik Glover (of the eccentric Liverpudlians The Seal Cub Clubbing Club) and Rich Hurst (of prog-rock insanity cases The Laze) got together to pen some soothing folk melodies for Nik’s newborn nephew. Even for these two unconventional musicians, I can imagine this being quite a unique reason to start a band. The result is nuanced, ambient folk music which, produced via their slightly warped musical minds, has its languid experimentalism only slightly tamed by a vein of pop accessibility that runs through their work. Loved Ones have produced some of their collective career’s most immediate music.
Their growth has thus far been completely natural. “We did a track on the second Seal Cubs album called Old World… It just grew into the fact that we could do it ourselves, so we wrote it, recorded it and produced it,” says Nik, with each stage of recording rolling from his tongue as if breathing is more of a challenge. At one point, when asked what the motivation for the project was, Rich turns towards us and simply utters “necessity”, as if politely asking what else is there to do with life except create music. This is a view shared by Nik who declares at one point that he has always wanted “to make music for a living, because it just means that I can make more music.” Cumulatively, the passion that these two have shared for music over such a long period make it unsurprising that Loved Ones’ sound is so well informed, so fully formed, and so adept, deep and intricate.
After a couple of lonely shows consisting of just Rich and Nik, Loved Ones was expanded into a live five piece. “When you’ve got just a singer and a violin on stage, it always feels a bit empty,” explains Nik. But the admiration that they have for each other suggests that the expansion of the band is far more significant than the filling of previously empty space.
Nik relentlessly praises Mother Earth, before revealing that their drummer’s moving meant that Jay and George could be commandeered by Loved Ones. Jay then refers to Dave as their “hero” in a heart-warming, almost paternal moment, and Dave replies by saying that the whole project has been so easy because he “just wanted to work with great musicians”. Suddenly we feel like we should sprinkle rose petals over the table and make a swift exit before we witness something deeply psychologically damaging.
With the album, recorded in Rich’s West Kirby studio and entitled The Merry Monarch now boxed off, I ask what their intentions are for releasing it. According to Nik, “the initial plan was to do a limited release ourselves, and see if a label wants to pick it up”. The fact that record labels are even on their minds hints that they’re aware, even tentatively excited, that this project has the potential to unfurl itself into something impressive. I point out that, given the amount of groups that they’ve been in that almost made it, it would be more than cruel if Loved Ones didn’t. They laugh, either out of modesty or because they’re unable to look at their own music objectively; but it really would be unjust.
Nevertheless, Loved Ones are aware of the element of luck involved, noting that “it’s chance really, to get picked up by the right person”. As they point out, bands that make it are often in their second or third incarnation; and why should that not be the case with Loved Ones? Nik’s lyrics have never been so wrought or poignant, and their collective melodies never more affecting. They finish by telling us that, “most of the time, we’re staring at the walls in the studio, like ‘fucking hell, this is going to take hours.’” But by now, we’ve learned their self deprecation, because as much as they might try to play it down, they’re a far more inspired, talented and rare a band than that.