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
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
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.
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
9. Kit Carter
10. Any Day I Want
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