Never Meant To Be: 1988–1993

8/10 Largely forgotten US group shine in the lo-fi spotlight


THERE are usually several reasons why a band that’s talented, founded in good faith and ticks the right zeitgeist boxes should falter while their peers streak past them, but in Love Child’s case it’s hard to cite just one with certainty. Mentioned favourably in the same breath as Yo La Tengo, Sebadoh and Beat Happening when they debuted in 1990 with a seven-inch, the trio went on to release two albums, the zippy amalgam of punk, art/noise rock and loindie pop that was Okay? (1991) and 1992’s shoegazein­clined Witchcra . However, the acclaim faded and they disbanded not long a¦er. Maybe the departure of founding member and drummer Will Baum in between albums was a hitch; the era’s all enveloping wave of grunge can’t have helped. More likely, having a sound that switched stylistic emphasis between songs made Love Child an awkward act to sell.

Whatever, this 26-track collection is a welcome reminder of the nous, inventiven­ess and chops of former Vassar College mates Baum, guitarist Alan Licht and bass player Rebecca Odes, all singers and songwriter­s who switch between instrument­s, too. It’s a record of their journey from 1988’s rough “Crocus Says”, recorded in Licht’s home basement, to a 1993 live session for college radio (which includes a feedback-strafed, twin-guitars jam of Moondog’s “All Is Loneliness”), pulling in album selections, odd singles and a Peel Session along the way.

Their versatilit­y and wide range of individual inspiratio­ns are apparent from the o‘. Licht is a compelling guitarist who’s as much a fan of Eddie Van Halen as

Bob Mould and Derek Bailey, and his own songs, as well as those co-written with Odes, are some of the strongest here. Of the latter, standouts are “Stumbling Block” from Witchcra (recorded with new drummer Brendan O’malley), which saw him wedging a metal bar between the strings, and the Ylt-ish “Six Of One”, with its passage of shrieking skronk. Odes and Baum are no writing slouches, either: the former’s mostly instrument­al “AAA/XXX” taps Sonic Youth circa Daydream Nation, but her solo “Church Of Satan” throws forward to anti-folk; Baum’s wry “He’s So Sensitive” nods to the Modern Lovers, while New York Dolls make their agreeably thumping mark on “Fortune Cookie”.

Considerin­g the spirit on show across Never Meant To Be, it’s surprising how brie¬y – and modestly – Love Child’s ¬ame ¬ared. A¦er they broke up, Baum seems to have disappeare­d; Licht started playing with the diverse likes of Arthur Lee, Anton Fier and Keiji Haino, and has released myriad albums, both solo and in collaborat­ion; Odes went on to release a solo LP and in 2021 played alongside Licht and Wolf Eyes on a Threshing Floor release. Rumour has it that lately she and Licht have been making music together again: it’s gratifying to think there might be a postscript to the Love Child story.

 ?? ?? Love Child (l-r): Rebecca Odes, Will Baum, Alan Licht
Love Child (l-r): Rebecca Odes, Will Baum, Alan Licht
 ?? ?? Briefly flaming: Love Child circa 1991
Briefly flaming: Love Child circa 1991
 ?? ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom