Friday, December 10th, 2004
A Spy In The House Of Love
Terry Bickers-ified for the first time since their debut release in 1988, The House Of Love will release their first album since 1993’s Audience With The Mind early next year. NME reports that Days Run Away will be out on February 28 in the UK. I expect to have to play the import game for this one.
Though mostly a footnote in the history books, The House Of Love’s jangly, atmospheric rock made them UK indie darlings for a brief period in the late 80s, essentially filling in the space between the end of The Smiths and the rise of The Stone Roses. Constant lineup shuffles and the fact that Guy Chadwick didn’t exactly have a face made for the cover of the NME kept them from becoming much more than cult favourites, though. Everyone goes on about the eopnymous debut record (often referred to as Creation after their label at the time), citing Terry Bickers’ guitarwork as the cornerstone of their sound. While I love Bicker’s playing as much as anyone (check out their John Peel Sessions disc – stripped of the rather dated production, these songs and performances are glorious), I think the songwriting on their eponymous sophomore album (generally referred to as Fontana, again, after their label) is my favourite of their releases. It, plus the Peel Sessions, get the most spins.
Sadly, neither of their last two albums managed to recapture those heights. Babe Rainbow was pretty solid, if lacking that je ne sais quoi, while Audience With the Mind was as good a sign as any that it was time to disband, which they did. Chadwick put out an alright solo record, Lazy, Soft and Slow in 1998, but has been quiet since. While I don’t think House Of Love have ever quite gotten the respect they deserve, they have been getting a much-deserved critical reappraisal over the last few years. With the Peel sessions disc, a best-of, and albums compiling all their Creation-era and Fontana-era material, the vaults have been pretty much cleared. It may be more wishful thinking than anything, but I’m hoping that the new material is respectable if not a complete return to the glory days of 1988-1990. That’s probably a little much to ask for, but I’m anxious to hear the new stuff regardless.
I’m a little surprised to see The Cardigans releasing a DVD from their “Lovefool” heyday with The Cardigans: Live In London, coming out in North America on February 8 (it’s already out in Europe). Taken from two First Band On The Moon-era concerts at the Sheperd’s Bush Empire in Londontown in 1996, it sort of goes against all their efforts to distance themselves from their undeserved ‘one-hit wonder’ status. While their early stuff is far more sophisticated than first impressions might imply, I really like how much they’ve grown since those days and find their current sound just as interesting. At any rate, besides the live show, the DVD features a couple videos – including versions of “Lovefool” and “Been It” rarely ever seen in North America – and a short film about the making of First Band On The Moon.
Click here to watch the video for the Stars’ “Ageless Beauty”, the excellent first single from Set Yourself On Fire (From Pop77). Their December 18 show at the Mod Club is now pretty much sold out (though Soundscapes apparently still has some tickets), but tickets remain for the all-ages show there on the 19th.
You can pre-order the new Magnolia Electric Co. release, the live Trials and Errors, at Secretly Canadian. The formal release date isn’t until January 18 but it appears as though they’ll start shipping pre-orders today.
np – The Fiery Furnaces / EP