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The House Of Love
Days Run Away
Art And Industry Records (UK)

Of all the post-punk legends who've gotten back together over the past couple of years, The House of Love's reunion has to be one of the most unlikely. After making one of 1988's most critically acclaimed - and still revered - albums in their first, self-titled record, and starting the first few of the legendarily interminable sessions for their second (commonly known as the "Butterfly Album"), singer / guitarist Guy Chadwick and lead guitarist Terry Bickers split acrimoniously, with the blame being cast on Bickers' unreliability and Chadwick's control mania among other things. Chadwick, together with bassist Chris Groothuizen, drummer Pete Evans and various guitarists, went on to finish the second album, release the fine third record Babe Rainbow, and bow out on a less than perfect note with the considerably inferior Audience For The Mind.

After such difficult recordings and the accompanying mayhem of huge, unrecouped record company advances and consequent personal eccentricity (apparently Chadwick's propensity to dance naked after ingesting an 'E' or two made him infamous on the London scene - see David Cavanagh's excellent history of Creation Records, My Magpie Eyes are Hungry for the Prize, for sordid details), the band members would be forgiven for retiring to the country and raising sheep. Instead, Bickers released a couple of excellent neo-psychedelic records with Levitation, and Chadwick put out the equally impressive, more reflective solo album Lazy, Soft and Slow before disappearing from view for a while.

What a treat it is, then, to have Chadwick, Bickers and Evans back together with a brand new set of songs that maybe don't quite reach the pinnacles of old but come damn close, and show a considerable progression to boot. (Groothuizen evidently declined the invitation to get back together, but newcomer Chris Jury more than adequately fills his boots).

Days Run Away kicks off like they'd never been away; "Love You Too Much" has HOL's archetypical chiming guitar intro, builds up the excitement with a brief "chikka chikka" break on deadened guitar strings, then forges into a classic Chadwick melody with typically wry lyrics. Halfway through, the song ascends to a new level with some soaring guitar interplay between the two guitarists - it sure is great to have Bickers back.

Then it's straight on to another standout; "Gotta Be That Way" has the kind of tune that sticks in your head after one or two listens, Evan's much-missed, shuffling drums, a cool double tracked vocal and, again, some incredible guitar textures from Bickers.

Things don't really let up from there. Days Run Away is an all too short listen at 37 minutes, but maybe that's for the best - none of the songs outstays its welcome or seems out of place. The only criticism I can think of lies in Pat Collier's production - it's great to have one of the original HOL producers handle this record, but he uses a much more stripped down approach than on the older albums. This allows the individual contributors to stand out, but stops the songs from reaching the dizzy heights of "Shine On", "I Don't Know Why I Love You", (insert HOL favourite here).

Having listened to this album many, many times, I'm still astounded by the consistent high standard of the songs and performances, especially given the track record of the participants. It's obvious that everybody set their differences aside, recognized that they are one of the most-missed and influential bands of their era, and determined to make a record that would only enhance their reputation. Let's hope the band makes it to the US to astound us again.

-Gareth Bowles

Track listing:
1.Love You Too Much
2. Gotta Be That Way
3. Maybe You Know
4. Kinda Love
5. Money and Time
6. Days Run Away
7. Already Gone
8. Wheels
9. Kit Carter
10. Any Day I Want

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