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House Of Love - She Paints Words In Red (Album Review)

Tuesday, 16 April 2013 Written by Graeme Marsh
House Of Love - She Paints Words In Red (Album Review)

Between the year of their formation in 1986 and their split in 1993, The House of Love built up a solid fanbase with 2 excellent albums, both eponymously named although the second of these is commonly known as ‘the butterfly album’ in reference to its striking cover art.

ImageMost famous for the indie anthem 'Shine On', the band were tipped for mega stardom but it never arrived; 2 more albums were produced in this period – 'Babe Rainbow' and 'Audience With The Mind' – but these failed to reach the same heights as the first offerings.

2003 saw the reunion of original members singer/songwriter Guy Chadwick and lead guitarist Terry Bickers, who had departed the band in acrimonious circumstances in 1989, and a new album 'Days Run Away' was subsequently released in 2005 with Matt Jury (bass) and Pete Evans (drums - another original member) completing the line up. The release went largely unnoticed by the buying public despite some favourable reviews in the national and international press.

Some 8 years on, House of Love are back with a new release on Cherry Red Records, 'She Paints Words In Red', which hit stores on 1st April. According to Chadwick, the 12 songs that make up the new album were recorded in just 10 days in November 2012, despite admitting that occasional quarrelling resurfaced between himself and Bickers during this period.

'A Baby Got Back On Its Feet' is the album opener, instantly recognisable as having that distinctive House of Love ring with chiming guitars courtesy of Bickers accompanying Chadwick’s low key drawl; an instrumental break gives Bickers the chance to play a superb solo sounding as if it could have been from Johnny Marr’s debut album, 'The Messenger', all in all sounding like a lost HOL classic.

'Hemingway' bounces into your ears like a Lloyd Cole and the Commotions song, disguising the subject matter somewhat – Ernest Hemingway took his own life in 1961 and the lyrics sound like a suicide note with lines such as ‘I can’t stand another minute, creaking with the weight of it all’. The title track then jangles its way on to the scene with a ringing guitar line reminiscent of The Cocteau Twins, the pace slowed down considerably with a mellow aura surrounding the whole track due to its dreamily repeated chorus.

Chadwick has stated that the majority of the tracks were written within the last year or so, with the exception being 'PKR' – a reworked B-side, 'Purple Killer Rose', that Chadwick recognises as one of the best songs he’s ever written; the track skips along in a psychedelic haze before unleashing a blistering Led Zeppelin like riff to drive the song to its epic conclusion, justifying these claims in the process.

Proceedings slow right down again with the country tinged ballad 'Lost In The Blues', incorporating standard blues melancholy within lyrics such as ‘I was so sorry, so ashamed’ and ‘nobody cares’. Delightful harmonies adorn 'Low Black Clouds', sounding like Simon and Garfunkel, driven along by a more prominent bassline and featuring more psych-folk guitars.

'Money Man' incorporates a darker, doomy guitar riff recalling Will Sergeant of Echo and the Bunnymen except that the song skips along with its pleasant melodies before Bickers unleashes another satisfying solo to conclude the poppy 3 minutes; another slow, pleasant and easy listening ballad follows, 'Trouble In Mind' as HOL explore their subtle side.

Remorseful reflection is apparent on 'Never Again', its foot tappingly jaunty beat hiding its meaning once again with lines like ‘never let a good thing go’ and ‘I’m a fool, I’m a fool’. 'Sunshine Out Of The Rain' takes the pace back down again, boasting a simple and delicate chorus before 2 more tracks bring proceedings to an end, both adding considerable qualities to the album: 'Holy River and Eye Dream'. The former recalls 'You’re Gorgeous' by Babybird with its opening guitaring before developing into something that could easily have come from an earlier album, another excellent piece of soloing adding considerable weight to the song; the latter meandering a slow dreamy path until a psychedelic guitar riff coupled with repeated ‘dream, dream, dream’ subdued vocals soothe you into a sleepy state, almost like a parent softly lulling their child to sleep.

2013 continues to be a year full of surprises, with Bowie coming out of retirement, Depeche Mode proving that they can still produce exceptional records, Marr’s debut being of such quality and now the return of The House Of Love. Chadwick has stated that everyone involved with the record feels as if the band have recaptured their mojo, and on this evidence it is hard to disagree.

'She Paints Words In Red' is out now on Cherry Red Records.

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