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House Of Love - She Paints Words in Red

  by Adrian Janes

published: 10 / 3 / 2013

House Of Love - She Paints Words in Red
Label: Cherry Red Records
Format: CD


Pleasant, but unadventurous second comeback album from the reformed House of Love

The House of Love were one of the bright hopes of the late 1980s for major commercial success, their coolness confirmed by their early releases being on Creation. Centred on Guy Chadwick and lead guitarist Terry Bickers, this promise began to ebb away after Bickers’ stormy departure in 1989. The band broke up in 1993, but in 2005 Chadwick and Bickers reunited as the House of Love and released the album 'Days Run Away'. This latest album was recorded in late 2012, but as befits a band that once wrote a song called 'Beatles and the Stones' it is steeped in a general mid-60's to mid-70's pop/rock feel. For the most part the songs would fit nicely into that era, the production clean without showing any real adventurousness. First track, 'A Baby Got Back on its Feet', has several elements that recur throughout: prominent acoustic rhythm guitar embroidered with fluid guitarwork, and flashes of harder playing which immediately raises the energy level before it sinks back to a more sedate pace. Both Bickers and Chadwick are credited as providing vocals and guitar, so I hope I don’t do them an injustice if I assume that Chadwick is the main vocalist (here sounding rather like Peter Perrett) and Bickers deserves the credit for some outstanding playing both here and on other songs. The other element that is common to much of the album is this song’s pleasantness. But it’s no more than that. Next, 'Hemingway', has lyrics which suggest both that writer’s macho sensibility and his ultimate suicide (“I’ve got a gun/I’m gonna shoot someone just for fun”) but these are bizarrely at odds with the jaunty acoustic guitar and brushes accompaniment. Things pick up with the title track, with its Beatles-esque verses and a Johnny Marr-type phrase providing the backbone, enhanced with some well-judged high notes and a resonating coda. Chadwick also stretches his voice more, achieving a more compelling tune. This precedes 'PKR' (short for 'Purple Killer Rose'), apparently a reworking of an old House of Love song. It was certainly worth resurrecting, the echoed vocals and guitar and the relentless rhythm combining to achieve the most dramatic and powerful song on the album. Much of the remainder is dominated by acoustic-heavy material, such as 'Low Black Clouds'” (sounding like a traditional folk melody sung by Simon and Garfunkel), 'Trouble in Mind' and 'Sunshine Out of the Rain' (where the vocals recall Al Stewart). What raises these songs, and the album in general, is the quality of the guitar fills and lead playing, as with the soaring introduction to 'Low Black Clouds'. This is even more the case on 'Never Again', with its powerful, short solo and the electric guitar line which runs through 'Holy River'. 'Eye Dream', a waltz-time ballad, effectively conveys a dreamy mood before a spooky, reverbed guitar breaks in and leads the album out on a more disturbing and challenging note than much of what precedes it. The kind of comparisons you’re forced to make in describing this album undoubtedly suggest the kind of standard for which the House of Love shoot. Unfortunately there are only a couple of songs here where I feel this is really achieved, although there are strong elements on most of them. From a band in its early years this would probably be dubbed “promising”; though fairly enjoyable, maybe for the House of Love this is as good as it gets.

Track Listing:-
1 A Baby Got Back On Its Feet
2 Hemingway
3 She Paints Words In Red
5 Lost In The Blues
6 Low Black Clouds
7 Money Man
8 Trouble In Mind
9 Never Again
10 Sunshine Out Of The Rain
11 Holy River
12 Eye Dream

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Interview (2007)
House Of Love - Interview
Back together to play some 'Don't Look Back' shows and having had their first EP and album just reissued, Anthony Dhanendran chats to Guy Chadwick from the House of Love about his influential band's destruction in the 1980's by the recording industry itself and their future recording plans

live reviews

Norwich Arts Centre, Norwich, 23/7/2023
House Of Love - Norwich Arts Centre, Norwich, 23/7/2023
Nige Nudds watches 80’s indie act The House of Love play a haunting set at the Norwich Arts Centre
Leadmill, Sheffield, 17/4/2005
ICA, London, 10/2/2005
12 Bar, London, 27/3/03

favourite album

The House of Love (2012)
House Of Love - The House of Love
In our ‘Re:View’ section in which we look back at albums from the past, Cila Warncke examines the House of Love’s seminal 1988 eponymous debut album, which has just been re-released in a three CD edition


Days Run Away (2005)
Enjoyable fifth album and first in nearly 12 years from the reformed House of Love, which proves to be an instant return to form

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