House of Love enjoyed quite good press in the late 80s and early 90s, then called it quits for a decade until a reunion in 2003. Meanwhile, lead guitarist Terry Bickers fronted the much underlauded Levitation, using a complex psych-based sound to inject new blood into quasi-progrock by blending diverse influences (Killing Joke, Swans, Televison, even Gentle Giant and Zappa) into the kind of melting pot that prefigured much of what's happening now with the millennial generations. When that and other ambitions collapsed, he looked up compeer Guy Chadwick once more, and House of Love came back together, mixing Velvet Underground with Rain Parade, the Byrds, Love (very heavy on the Bryan MacLean element), and others (Julian Cope, Robyn Hitchcock, etc.).
She Paints Words in Red is much more ethereal than Levitation or any of the interim groups, favoring laid back vocals amid often propulsive but sonically damped airs that shimmer and ring, sometimes even ironically transforming the shoegaze Bickers once worked rather vigorously to bring into better articulation. PKR is a particularly dynamic example of the core of the band's cosmic rave-up shard (and it's only a shard, not cropping up very often), and Lost in the Blues is heavily David Gilmour-esque in that remarkable gent's mellifluous Interstellar Appalachian Drive mode.
Quite a bit of this is pop but of the sort Donovan might have penned long long ago. Sunshine out of the Rain is particularly poignant, kind of an update to Peter & Gordon and Gerry & the Pacemakers by way of Steve Kilby or similar. House of Love had a definite knack for taking a quasi-commercial approach and melting it down into a far more companionable populist vibe. They weren't out to sell you a car or huckster some New Age pseudo-religion nor sound the drumbeat for heavy metal war, they just wanted to send one and all home happy after the concert, feeling they spent a couple hours having a good time while engaging brain and aesthetics. At that, the lads were pretty damned good, and it appears they're not about to back down for the foreseeable future—if that is, Chadwick and Bickers can keep a much-remarked-upon creative tension sufficiently under leash. But then, adding a decade or so to one's personal backlog always seems to be pretty good at accomplishing just that.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles