Early years compilation albums have always tickled my curiosity. The thought process is comprehendible; to consolidate those burgeoning EP years into one land close the door to a piece of personal history, hopefully for something as illustrious and exciting as the formative process. However, isn’t it really just another way to clutch precariously to something that’s already happened? If we learnt anything from Bowie (I apologise infinitely for what must be the latest in a seemingly inexhaustible list of references across cyberspace) it’s that to achieve a deified position in popular culture you have to move on.
Tuff Love’s three EPs - 2014’s ‘Junk’, and last year’s ‘Dross’ and ‘Dregs’ - showed them as one of the most promising fuzz pop bands in the UK, all sugar-sweet melodies and crunching choruses. ‘Resort’, a compilation of these trio of releases and discography of sorts, flows as an LP surprisingly well considering the fragmented time in which they were recorded and originally released. Through opener ‘Sweet Discontent’ to recent ‘Dregs’ highlights ‘Duke’ and ‘Crocodile’, the progression Julie Eisenstein and Suse Bear have made across the three releases is abundantly clear.
Tuff Love’s first album opens with the song that Johnny Lynch, who runs their label, sent out a couple of years ago, with a handwritten note promising “fuzzed-up grunge-pop goodness”. Sweet Discontent delivers exactly that: the sound of the C86 bands, especially the Shop Assistants, filtered through the toughness of early 90s alt-rock. It sets the template for the 14 tracks that follow: affectless vocals by Julie Eisenstein, just primitive enough drums and guitars that fizz rather than bludgeon.