Friendly and uneasy at the same time, “All We Need is Hell” is a guitar-filled midtempo number overflowing with smooth riffs, honeyed melodies, and weary-to-acerbic observations. What’s not to like?
Despite the seemingly laid-back pace, the song accrues a crafty urgency through the course of its concise three minutes. I attribute this in part to the appealing, multifaceted guitar work, as a crunchy undercurrent builds in the second half that was unapparent in the first. And the song structure itself is partly behind the cumulative power. To begin with, note how the verse and the chorus feel and sound similar musically, even as they are not actually the same. This gives the song, over time, an extra vigor, since in this case, the chorus feels less like a change of direction and more like a continued, purposeful movement down the existing path. And then there’s the matter of how the titular phrase is employed—not as an established part of the chorus but as one-time utterance in the center of the song, before the second time we hear the chorus. This strikes me as an unusual and stimulating songwriting device.
Lyrically, the song draws me in with its combination of understandable phrases and less comprehensible longer sentiments. But the lyrical linchpin is surely the line that opens the first iteration of the chorus (0:40): “Getting rid of all the demons/To get down to just the devil”—a disconcertingly profound idea, sung with front man Kevin O’Rourke’s slightly unsettling blend of sweetness and forewarning.
Lo Fine is the longstanding, ongoing musical project helmed by singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist O’Rourke. Founded in 1998 in Northampton, Massachusetts, Lo Fine has released three full-length albums and three EPs over the course of its meandering existence. “All We Need is Hell” is from the third album, Want is a Great Need, which was recorded largely in O’Rourke’s adopted home of Truro, near the tip of Cape Cod, and came out in November. A more recently released second single, “More Better,” is also available for download now, via SoundCloud. Thanks again to Magnet Magazine for the MP3.
photo credit: Petar Dopchev