Sometimes, things aren't as simple as they seem. Love To Night, the Mark Kleiner Power Trio's freshman effort, is, and that actually isn't a bad thing. After all, this is an album where a quarter of the song titles (and the album title itself) have "love" in them. This is an album about the upside of love, the simple purity of happiness, not the complexities of rejection and loss. It's about sugary harmonies that would do the Monkees proud, hooks Paul McCartney could have written in his prime and would kill for today. All things should be this simple.
The story behind the band is somewhat less straightforward. The songwriter/guitarist/vocalist/namesake of the group is an experienced ex-member of the Vancouver music scene, who dropped out in order to become a Lutheran minister. After some serious introspection, Kleiner decided that God wasn't in fact calling him into the fold, just encouraging him put aside all of the "West Coast razzle dazzle" and get back to basics in his songwriting. When the songs were finished, Kleiner recruited bassist Pete Mills and drummer Kurt Dahle to round out the trio.
Dahle is perhaps the best known of the three, having lent his percussion prowess to the Age of Electric, Limblifter and the New Pornographers, and his presence is not at all wasted here. His drums provide a solid backbeat to every track, and his vocal harmonies perfectly complement the hooks that Kleiner creates so effortlessly. Mills, of Vancouver's Flash Bastard, brings his competent bass playing and impeccable production to finish off the album. He gives each track a sheen without letting it drown in sweetness, not an easy balance to reach.
Sometimes the sincerity gets a bit grating, like listening to a couple that have just fallen in love, but to fault this album for its sincerity would be to miss the point. Kleiner is doing something that few songwriters have the guts to do these days; he's created an album free of irony, misery, and self-depreciation. Sure, prolonged exposure might lead to a diabetic fit, but small doses still leave you with a good buzz.
Check out the Mark Kleiner Power Trio live, Thursday, September 5, 2002 at the Point on 17th with local boys The English Teeth.