In the 2020 tradition of being bummed about life’s seemingly endless postponement, and/or cancellation, I’m going to devote a little time today to British indie band The House of Love.
Originally, they were scheduled to perform the Palace Theatre in DTLA this evening, celebrating their own 30th anniversary, as well as local sponsor Part Time Punks‘ 15th anniversary.
But like all things fun, the night’s been set aside for a future, yet to-be-determined date.
Now, I wouldn’t be surprised if you haven’t heard of The House of Love. Most haven’t. Back when I was still working – pre-Covid – and tickets went on sale for this show, I witnessed a fair amount of surprise and confusion, specifically as to my excitement for successfully securing said-tickets.
I was able to clear things up, with a focused sampling of early material, all of which was well-received (thankfully). But it reminded me of how some of these older, under-the-radar acts tend to be forgotten along the way, despite being highly influential for their time. And for one reason or another, I still carry them with me.
That brings me to today, and what could’ve been.
Let’s turn back the clock.
Founded by vocalist/guitarist Guy Chadwick and lead guitarist Terry Bickers, The House of Love were kind of a big deal in the whole Brit-pop and shoegaze scenes, mainly due to their late ’80s – early ’90s contributions that helped define a seminal era in indie music.
Their blistery ’88 single “Christine” eschewed dream-like white noise with a polished silver sheen that siphoned from the neighboring wall of sound motifs, while surprisingly favoring upfront, clear, crisp ’60s infused pop-like vocals.
“Christine” from the 1988 self-titled debut album “The House of Love.”
“I Don’t Know Why I Love You” built on this style, embracing openly catchy rhythms, sugar-coated in fiery power-pop guitar-infused inclinations. It’s a distinct brand of melody-infused angst-and-release indie romanticism that we just don’t hear a lot of these days.
The tune comes from their second, also self-titled, album “The House of Love,” sometimes referred to as the “Butterfly” album, due to it’s cover art, to avoid confusion.
“I Don’t Know Why I Love You” from the 1990 self-titled sophomore album “The House of Love,” also known as the “Butterly” album.
A personal favorite, “Cruel” was a more subdued psychedelic throwback, laced with sitar-styled guitarwork, splashed amongst a deliberately reserved rhythm of washes and rolls, vocals phased in slight paisley delay, triggering feelings of trailing light and swirling sensation.
Unfortunately, “Cruel” suffers a mysterious absence on Spotify, as does the accompanying third album, the ’92 release “Babe Rainbow.” But I do have a YouTube embed in its stead.
“Cruel” from the 1992 album “Babe Rainbow.”
I’ll conclude with the melancholic pop of “The Girl with the Loneliest Eyes,” another fondly remembered tune from “Babe Rainbow.” This breezy track leans a bit more towards the mainstream, yet cleverly avoids sacrificing anything that’s come before. It’s a beautiful ballad-like whirl of heaven-sent dream-gazed wonder that strolls like a breeze a on sun-swept afternoon.
Curiously, despite “Babe Rainbow’s” absence, “The Girl with the Loneliest Eyes” is available for Spotify enthusiasts, included as part of a “Best Of” compilation from ’98.
“The Girl with the Loneliest Eyes” from the 1992 album “Babe Rainbow,” embedded here from the 1998 “Best Of” compilation.
The House of Love made three more albums since, one at the tail end of ’93, prior to breaking up, and two after, following their reunion more than a decade later. Respectively, those are titled “Audience with the Mind,” “Days Run Away,” and “She Paints Words in Red.”
Admittedly, I don’t hold as much familiarity with these newer efforts. When they disbanded I kind of drifted off as well, not quite reconnecting until their recently announced 30th anniversary tour. This post has sort of reinvigorated my need to remedy that gap.
I can’t imagine The House of Love will be performing anytime soon, let alone this year. But I have every hope that they’ll eventually make good on their stateside return. I’d really love to hear these classic tracks performed live again. I guess, until then, I’ll have to tide myself over with what I’ve got.
I hope you enjoy these selections from “The House of Love” as much as I do. Stay safe, healthy, and loose.