Mean Lady is a versatile duo made up of vocalist Katie Dill — who also contributes guitar, ukulele and omnichord — and bassist/keyboardist/sampler-wrangler/producer Sean Nobles. On Love Now, their breezy debut full-length, they mix up murky electronics with hardy, time-tested folk elements. Hard rhythmic tracks — clipped grooves, strident beats, rollicking piano, the occasional funky freakout — serve as a backbone for gauzier tones (misty production, found sound effects, hazy keyboards, Smiths-echoing guitar tones). Dill’s dusty alto and carnival-esque omnichord burbles lend a longing but playful vibe to the record.
Love Now‘s lyrics match this gentle whimsy with a charmingly old-fashioned take of courtship. On the scratchy soul of “Daisies,” Dill implores her beloved, “Let’s walk each other home,” while on the beat-heavy tropical playground chant “Why’d’ya Haftabee Sucha,” she sings about sitting by the phone waiting for a call. Marriage is a recurring theme: On “Bop Bop,” she mourns a union that never happened, and on “Far Away,” she fervently wishes it would happen someday in the future. The latter track shows up at the end of Love Now in a stripped-down form as “I Will Marry You,” which has a slightly tweaked premise: Thanks to Dill’s gentle vocals, the summer-night sound effects and whispery strumming, the touching song is an intimate promise shared between a couple, not an idle daydream. It’s a satisfying resolution to a record with an old soul that still gracefully navigates the modern world.