Austin’s Love at 20 is comprised of several members who’ve been making a name for themselves for quite some time (I remember drummer Mark Toohey as the man behind the kit for Lucidus in 99). Such backgrounds allow the group to bring an amalgam of influences to make a creative debut that’s as sharp as the cover art for Time to Begin would suggest.
Oddly, the band claim to have a huge influence of British indie rock, but opening track “The Look” has more of a resemblance to old Omaha circa the days of Denver Dalley. It’s got extremely sharp guitar chords that battle from ear to ear, and a complex structure that didn’t really exist outside of the more obscure Brit pop groups. Perhaps its the anthemic vocals during the chorus that harken back to that era, but nonetheless, its a solid lead track.
One might find that the band’s name sort of confines the group to a certain genre of writing, which comes apparent in lyrics and song titles such as “Let Her Know.” Despite the leaning towards somewhat juvenile lyrics, which is just personal taste, this track emphasizes the bombastic approach that surely has built the band’s following around Austin. Toohey’s drumming here is spot on, and the more creative he gets, the more powerful the group sounds.
“So Bad” celebrates Love at 20 stepping outside of the box. A choppy guitar cutting in across a danceable bass groove really points to a group that doesn’t always follow their own anthemic formula, which is probably a point for future focus, as spots to tend to get a bit tedious with similar sonic structures. “Time to Begin” also gives a breath of fresh air to the album, though it has some traceable roots to the band’s sound. Personally, that chorus rings loud like something Jeremy Enigk would have pulled off during his best days of the 90s. You can just imagine crowds with fists in the air screaming at the top of their longs, or at least you should.
Personally, the best run the band has during Time to Begin comes during the last three songs, “Hearts and Fire” and “Things to Come Pt. 1 and 2.” Deep melodies and a sense of patience really reveal the craftsmanship dedicated to creating the record as a whole. Maybe I’m just an old sad bastard, but I love it when the group slows things down, almost to a grinding halt, using the strength Mike Groener’s vocals to propel the tunes. All in all, its a decent piece of work from another hard working band dedicated to keeping the Austin scene going strong.