Sunday, July 28, 2013

SPAZ reviews HELEN LOVE's Day-Glo Dreams!



OK, let's be honest here: I'm not going to pretend that I know everything that there is to know about Helen Love.  I've always been an admirer from a distance.  I've picked up their CDs over the years and I've listened to them quite a bit. I'm most certainly a fan, but I've managed to remain happily ignorant to WHO they are, what kinds of cars they drive, what their favorite TV shows are, etc.  Here is what I do know:

1. Helen Love is a band AND a person (but I will refer to them as a band)
2. They are Welsh
3. They adore Joey Ramone, Debbie Harry and quite a few other original Pop icons
2. They love all sorts of pop culture but especially music
1. They make great Pop records

Roughly 20 years ago, they released their debut single, "Formula One Racing Girls", a slab of lo-fi Twee pop that was blessed with more imagination than musical chops, but it was obvious they were destined for bigger things... especially with their blend of 8-bit video game samples, Punk guitar and Girl Pop melody.  Over the next two decades, they've perfected that formula while losing members, gaining members, turning up the guitars, adding Techno to the mix, turning down the guitars, etc.  As they've moved towards an Electronic-based sound, their songwriting style hasn't changed.  They are still very much influenced by The Ramones, Blondie, Glam Rock, Bubblegum Pop, Girl Pop and whatever else suits their fancy.  It's really kind of interesting just how many different things they've added and subtracted to the mix and yet they remain uniquely Helen Love.

When Elefant Records released the excellent It's My Party And I'll Play What I Want To album back in 2007, it was a groovy platter that referenced everything from the 1910 Fruitgum Company to the Macca & Wings single "Jet" to Rodney Bingenheimer's legendary nightclub Rodney's English Disco. Their lyrical focus was still firmly in the past, but their music kept moving forward. the songs had more depth, more shadows and more light. To some, it may have seemed as if they were playing the same old song over and over, but if that was the case, it was a pretty damn great song!

Now, six years later, Helen Love return with an album that continues their forward trajectory without sacrificing a bit of who they were.  In fact, if you couldn't tell by the album's title, Day-Glo Dreams, the band has finally embraced the '80s and added a lot of great references to that era in their lyrics. "Spin Those Records" namechecks Michael Jackson and Culture Club in the bridge and middle eight and chorus! However, they certainly haven't turned their backs on their roots. "Atomic" may or may not be titled after the Blondie song (it probably is). "We Are The Lo-Fi Kids" references their Indie beginnings, but they sound much bigger and bolder than their initial run of singles.  More electronic than guitar oriented, Helen Love are a Pop band right down to the core.  There are so many hooks on Day-Glo Dreams that it should be sold in a Bait & Tackle shop in every beach town up and down the coast! 

Helen Love may not change the world, but they probably don't want to.  Their simple yet catchy pop tunes might possibly change YOUR world.  This is an album that will enchant Indie Pop fans as well as Electropop and '80s fans.  Helen Love are definitely charming and their tunes are quite delicious. Beloved by those that have fallen under their spell, Day-Glo Dreams will hopefully rope in a new generation of fans and maybe encourage the band to come out with something a little quicker next time around!  Until then, this is pure audio bubblegum that will keep us Pop geeks quite happy for the next 100 spins or so!

Peace, love and Pop
Stephen SPAZ Schnee

No comments: