Resort, Glaswegian noise-pop trio Tuff Love’s debut full-length album, is nothing new. Quite literally. Stitching together the band’s three previous EP releases – Junk, Dross and Dregs – end-to-end to form a 15-track ‘compilation album’, Tuff Love’s return to the spotlight in 2016 might warrant a certain level of eyebrow-raising, particularly for a band fresh from a run of major European festivals and having supported legendary shoegaze outfit Ride on their 20th Anniversary Tour last year. That being said, the clumsy structure and absence of new material on Resort does little to detract from the overall result, a blend of catchy songwriting and dreamy, sun-soaked aesthetic that makes for a gratifying debut release.
Tuff Love’s recipe for grungy, lo-fi pop-music rarely deviates over the course of the record. The youthful harmonies of axe-women Julie and Suse combine with prominent basslines and fuzzed-out guitars riffs to give Resort counterbalances the album’s raw simplicity with a noticeably sleek production quality to the credit of the label.
In keeping with the hazy, lackadaisical instrumentation on the record, Tuff Love’s lyricism induce the frequent impression of being thrust into the midst of a dreamscape, narratives meandering through nostalgia, fleeting sense impressions, and fantasy without breaking stride. This is not to say that Tuff Love are all style and no substance however; the band is clearly willing to broach painful subject matters as in ‘Threads’ wistful “I broke my body and my soul for you/ I wasted all my youth on you” and ‘Slammer’s anti-patriarchal avowal of “I don’t need a thing/ from gilded cage/ I’ve got stamina/ I’ve got rage”.
Ultimately however, Resort fails to shrug off the images associated with its namesake, conjuring up unwelcome visions of synthetic palm trees and too-blue oceans which fail to convince the listener of anything truly authentic. Whilst Resort is an enjoyable listen, the self-proclaimed anguish and riot grrrl sensibilities of the band are never quite audible through all the prettiness.