“Are you in love?” Setting the tone for an upfront, personal account of romance and fervor, this question surrounds every song on the Regrettes’ newest record, How Do You Love? A 44-minute piece of unrequited poetry released Aug. 9, the album shows a delicate side of the Los Angeles punk rock band.
“Are You in Love? (Intro),” the first track on How Do You Love?, acts as a therapeutic introduction to the theme of devotion as a whole. Listeners feel as though they’re sitting in the atmospheric office of an actual therapist, trying to pull out deep, lyrical feelings and memories from the psyche. Lead singer Lydia Night delivers spoken word-style vocals on “Are You in Love? (Intro),” posing question after question before finally concluding, “If you said yes / To all the things above / Then yes, my friend, I’m sorry / It appears you are in love.”
This track leads dramatically into “California Friends.” The abruptness of Night’s voice possesses an analog reverb effect that pairs with the slow addition of instruments as the song carries on. Background shouting pushes the energy forward in a call-and-response fashion, keeping the song simultaneously mellow and active in a vocals-versus-beat battle.
These kinds of tonal dynamics vary the speed throughout many of the songs on this album, a common trait of myriad other punk rock songs throughout the ages. The Regrettes bring their own unique touch to the style, combining elements of Queen-like ambient harmony and No Doubt-esque femme powerhouse stamina. Reviving 1970s girl-band zest, each song has its own personality and story to tell — all of this coming together around this little thing called love.
And considering Night is still only 18 years old, the frontwoman’s approach to romance carries a graceful innocence toward the matter. Her lines in “I Dare You,” such as “My mom tries to catch me, but I know all the backstreets,” show the fluorescent adolescence of surviving as a teenager, navigating the long and daunting hallways of a love story.
This childlike perspective continues into “Coloring Book.” Night sketches a picture of her love-struck idolization, saying, “I’ll color in the picture / If you just draw the lines.” This stripped-back track showcases the vintage essence of Night’s voice, isolated against the ringing of background guitars until the drums and bass kick in at the build of the song.
The raspiness of Night’s vocals sound as if she dropped into the 2010s from another decade. On every song, the unique tone of the album pairs with her gleaming youth to create the fresh-faced sound of the Regrettes, which sounds more refined since the band’s freshman album, Feel Your Feelings Fool!
Songs like “Pumpkin” and “Stop and Go” show a softer side of the band — straying from the punk roots, these particular tracks sound like more of an indie rock daydream. With passing mentions of the iconic romance film “The Notebook” and the often-mentioned Romeo and Juliet pairing, the stereotypes of old and modern love stories are examined and shown to be just as relevant today.
The most variant song on the album is “More Than a Month,” which gives a drastic shift halfway through — so much so that it sounds like two different songs. About three minutes in, the first section ends and fades into a downbeat closing to the story, driving the album into more upbeat territory as the songs dwindle down.
Closing with the titular song off How Do You Love?, the questions posed at the beginning evolve from “Do you love?” to “How do you do so?” The final exposition realizes that just because you’re in love doesn’t mean you know how to act. And if there’s anything the Regrettes teach through this album, it’s to jump — they dare you to.