Release Date: Apr 9, 2013
Record label: Cherry Red
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Pop
The House Of Love’s warmly received 2005 comeback Days Run Away not only reunited frontman Guy Chadwick with his notoriously mercurial lead guitar foil Terry Bickers for the first time in 15 years, but it paraded enough inspiration to suggest future greatness was again lurking around the corner. Since that second coming petered out, however, the silence has become deafening. Yet it seems The House Of Love were right to respect the old adage about not rushing genius, for the long-awaited She Paints Words In Red turns out to be the Camberwell crew’s finest – and most consistent – platter since 1990’s Fontana album.
She Paints Words in Red is the second House of Love reunion album, arriving eight years after 2005's Days Run Away, but it received the biggest push since their 1993 farewell, Audience with the Mind, arriving on the prominent indie Cherry Red. Middle age suits House of Love quite well, actually. Always a gentle, melodic guitar pop group, they've aged nicely, feeling at home in their sweetly swaying rhythms and easy, almost whispered melodies.
There’s something truly pleasing about The House Of Love’s new album, She Paints Words In Red. It’s hard to say exactly what it is – singer/songwriter Guy Chadwick’s low, fuzzy voice, stuck somewhere between the lead singer of the Toxic Airborne Event and Leonard Cohen? The group’s warm, woodsy guitar strums? The songs themselves, with their easy, catchy choruses? Or maybe what makes She Paints Words In Red so damn lovely isn’t any of these things individually; rather, it’s that somehow, all thrown together, the components of The House Of Love’s new album make a sound that is marvellously comfortable. Of course, ‘comfortable’ is rarely a good thing when it comes to new pop music.
Two decades after this British guitar-based, atmospheric band’s dissolution, this second album in a reunion phase joins singer/songwriter Guy Chadwick with bassist Matt Jury and original members, lead guitarist Terry Bickers and drummer Pete Evans. 2005 offered Days Run Away after 12 years off. Bickers and Chadwick had bickered. Their sundered pairing had mirrored, some observed, the Smiths’ Morrissey and Johnny Marr.
Even on their debut album, now 25 years old, the House of Love were steeped in nostalgia. Since reuniting a decade ago, frontmen Terry Bickers and Guy Chadwick have spent most of their time looking back; the songs on She Paints Words in Red are their first new work in eight years. The older they get, the softer the band sound: there is a dark streak of anguish in Chadwick's lyrics to Hemingway and Trouble in Mind, but the guitars are lambent, pastel-pretty on the former, gentle as a lullaby on the latter.
Twenty years ago, the thought of a new THOL album would have been hilarious, so viciously acrimonious was the London group’s 1993 split. And yet they’re back, with their sixth studio album and second since that parting. What ‘She Paints…’ proves is that time doesn’t guarantee evolution – the jangle and thrash of Terry Bickers’ guitar and the wistful air of it all could come straight from their self-titled 1988 debut.