Review: House Of Love – She Paints Words In Red

Barring death, it seems there’s a law that all bands must reconvene at some point regardless of how the acrimonious the split was. When lead guitarist Terry Bickers departed The House Of Love in the late 1980’s, one of the great partnerships of alternative/indie rock was broken up just as the band were on the cusp of becoming huge. Happily, frontman Guy Chadwick and Bickers put their differences aside roughly ten years ago and brought out an album called ‘Days Run Away’. On its own terms, it was a decent album, albeit one limited by its beat group production. The biggest problem was that it didn’t really sound like The House Of Love.

House Of Love Album Cover

Any feelings of trepidation of which incarnation of The House Of Love will show up this time will subside as soon as the opening track plays. ‘A Baby Got Back On Its Feet’ contains the key elements of Terry Bickers’ jangly guitar and Guy Chadwick’s ghostly vocals. In terms of its place in the order of great career moments, it may not trouble the Top 20 but it’s a sure sign that this is a “proper” House Of Love album. A playful and undemanding song called ‘Hemingway’ follows. So far, so respectable. The title track is, however, much better; featuring an effortlessly cool performance from Chadwick with easy on the ear harmonies and Bickers’ ever-reliable melodic prompting, then there’s the impressive, menacing rumble of ‘PKR’. Best of all is ‘Money Man’ where the telepathy between Chadwick and Bickers reaches a glorious peak, or even the perfectly-judged languid charm of ‘Sunshine Out Of The Rain’. Admittedly, the countrified stylings of ‘Lost In The Blues’ and the last two numbers may lack the necessary edge but these are quibbles on an otherwise strong album.

‘She Paints Words In Red’ is not a classic but in all fairness – despite a plethora of great songs in their back catalogue – it’s debatable whether House Of Love ever really made a consistently great album. Nevertheless, this is a rewarding and dignified reminder of their earlier magic with some cracking songs worthy of a place on any future “best of” compilation. At its best, one can almost imagine the band and original producer Pat Collier have done a “Rick Rubin”, gone into the studio and remembered the glories of twenty five years ago. They did a fine job.

Web Sites:
The House Of Love Official Facebook Page
Cherry Red Label and Shop Site
The House Of Love – Sunshine Out Of The Rain

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