This past Sunday, I ventured to the Sorrento Hotel in downtown Seattle, to witness Portland based band, Lovers, play a soul crushing gig. I mean that in the best way possible. Lead singer and songwriter Carolyn Berk, affectionately known as Cubby, is the life-force and creator behind the trio comprised of keyboardist Kerby Ferris and drummer Emily Kingan. They’re in the midst of touring the country to promote their newest EP, Dark Light, the fifth album they can now wear proudly in their back pocket. It’s clear the band is trying out something new, since, after all, this is the first album to feature all three gals. Ferris contributes a peppy synth-pop sound, hopping about behind her deck of instruments with a curious smile on her face. Off-stage, Kingan and Berk have created a bit of a cult following with their Youtube videos: “Man Times.” (Or, maybe I’m the only one who tunes in.) The two are best buds, and are so comedic with each other.
Looking through my collection, Lovers’ first EP from 2002, Starlight Sunken Ship, was folksy and intimate. Off this album came “Peppermint,” an emotionally driven song that’s been reprieved in Dark Light with an electro makeover. There is a richness in Lovers, but it’s a simple sentiment. Berk’s lyrics are a work of poetry, words etched within and without relationships, or simply, the idea of it—the questions about love.
Despite being a bit nervous at the Seattle gig (I’m going to blame it on the wood paneled room and crushed velvet seats), Berk closed her eyes and motioned her hands and arms above her head and around her face—a spiritual, almost ritualistic humbleness in her every gesture. Admittedly, I was thrilled to hear their new material, because Lovers are a total package. You feel the melody, you bop your feet up and down, but more than anything: you don’t forget the lines that grip you.
“Figure-8” will be the favorite among fans. It’s catchy and reminscent of a different time. In “Don’t You Want It?” Berk sings, “I make alliances with appliances / I try to get them to talk to me,” describing the emptiness of a house after someone leaves. It suggests years and years of introspective genius. (But don’t tell that to Cubby, I have a feeling she’s unaware of her romantic intensity.) “Boxer” is another gem. It’s quintessential Lovers and does what they do so well: it shoots ideas together in a string of words, “Boxer don’t knock me down / Writer don’t write me out / Stranger let’s not stay estranged / Lover are we going seperate ways / And don’t I have a say?”
After the show, I had a chance to chat with Berk while I bought some of their merch. It’s cool to see a band that mingles with the crowd, and a ton of their Seattle based friends turned out for the show, too. Berk was so approachable and even slightly shy, an endearing trait among lead singers to possess. Lovers just covers that fragile aching, the things left unsaid, and then it allots a space for you where you can go with your thoughts and sit idlely, while you ponder what love means to you.