As the opening bars of The House Of Love’s first studio album in well over a decade burst into my eardrums, I was transported back in time to my first year of university, in the very early ’90s. Shoe- gazing indie was practically the norm, using the term “guitar driven” was unnecessary, and House Of Love’s “Butterfly album” was riding high in the charts. Oh yes, Love You Too Much has the guitars, the catchy rhythms and the distinctive vocal harmonies that made tracks like Shine On and I Don’t Know Why I Love You indie classics.
Some may argue that a band that split in 1993 should not go to the bother of reforming nearly 12 years later to simply continue as if it had never left off. Unfortunately, it seems like the House Of Love would agree with them, as the rest of Days Run Away never quite hits the sweet spot promised in the opening track.
The guitars are still there, as are the harmonies, but there is a tendency towards twee-ness which wasn’t there first time around. Both Money And Time and Wheels have a Beach Boys quality to the singing – “ba…ba…ba…ba-ba..ba” in Money And Time would sound especially at home in the surfer ’60s. Pleasant enough ear candy, but hardly indie for the iPod generation.
Those songs, however, are nothing compared to the country-fied Already Gone, with fast plucked bass sounding like a double bass and a twang to the accent. To call it Dylan-esque would be to do a disservice to the man, when the overall effect is more like Rednex‘s Cotton Eye Joe. Cringeworthy.
Faring rather better is Gotta Be That Way, with an opening military tattoo on the drums followed by a catchy motif started on the guitars, replicated through the voices and passing by the bass too. And who can’t empathise with, “The sun is shining but it’s raining down,” and, “My head is spinning, going round and round”?
Kit Carter is also worth a listen, with some good guitar riffs and a darker atmosphere with its tale of murder in New York. It has an energy that is unmatched elsewhere.
Considering Guy Chadwick’s vocals used to be such a highlight, and his voice is still as good as ever, it is perhaps surprising that some of the most interesting moments on the album are the instrumentals secreted through the album. Money And Time has a middle section of just bass guitar, bass drum and cymbals; then subdued voices and a single electric guitar slowly enter the fray, before full-scale voice, drum and guitars return for the final chorus. The bass guitar and lively drums in the title track also manage to distract the listener from the banality of the lyrics.
There is one attempt at a slower, ballad-type number – Kinda Love, which starts with a electric guitar solo, but the boys cannot hold back and the pace and volume quickly build. The twin voices in this and the acoustic Anyday I Want have overtones of Turin Brakes, albeit without the same spectrum of ethereal and esoteric qualities, while the deliberate ending of the album on a bum note is irritating beyond belief.
Unfortunately then, Days Run Away is a rather patchy and inconsistent album, unlikely to garner The House Of Love many new fans, but one that may get the old fans digging out their vinyl.