Standout Track: No. 1, “Vernon Street,” which, with its prominent synthesizers, is the most electronically minded song on the 14-song Ode to Arlington. Such treacly atmosphere, of course, is indelibly associated with the ’80s, but according to Ash Lovelies vocalist and synth guitarist Lou Black, the group wasn’t initially angling for synthetic pop. “We originally developed it as more of a rock song,” says Black. “It had a totally different vibe, and we slowed it down and added lush instrumentals.” Though he’s quick to point out that he used keyboards invented after the ’80s, he does admit to “purposefully throwing in the cheesey ’80s backing chorus.”
Musical Motivation: As a result of the last-minute musical rethink, Black reworked the lyrics with bandmate Avelynn Mitra to match the new tempo. It turns out Vernon Street in Arlington is where Black, who’s a government consultant, has lived for six years. The new lyrics contain a fictional account of a breakup in his house; according to Black’s imagined story, the girl leaves town while the guy stays, and after the dust has settled, he decides to go after her. The refrain—“Simplify the soul in me”—reflects “the notion of being able to get out of this current situation, and go to a different city and get in touch with your soul,” Black says.
Self-Starter: In addition to the Ash Lovelies, Black has a self-titled project and is also the founder of Factor 21 Records. At the moment, Factor 21 only releases Black’s projects, but he has bigger aspirations. “It’s always been my notion to sign other artists,” he says. “There are lots of people out there I’d love to work with. They have my number.”