Posted by: Nick Walters | May 17, 2013

Springtime Album Review Cleanout

BowieRobynSuedeHOL

David Bowie, Guy Ghadwick and Terry Bickers of the House of Love, Suede, and Robyn Hitchcock (auditioning for the part of the next Doctor Who)

Spring is here! Time to review four recent albums made by middle aged white old men.

DAVID BOWIE: The Next Day

I’m sorry, I’m so so sorry. This does nothing for me. Apart from one or two good tracks, this sounds as much of a clattery, confused mess as Reality. Seems I still haven’t recovered from the sheer embarrassment of Never Let Me Down (oh the irony), even after a quarter of a century, and it seems that I never will. Oh well. Some wounds run deep.

SUEDE: Bloodsports

This is an excellently produced and arranged album, lovingly packaged and presented, sounding punchy and meaty blasting from my KEF Q35 floor-standers. Problem is – where’s the tunes? Nothing here with the infectiousness of The Beautiful Ones or even the pure simple pop blast of Film Star, and nothing here with the forlorn majesty of The Wild Ones or even Saturday Night. I’ve had this on a loop for a week and still can’t recall a single note. Shame, cos I really wanted to like it. I put on Head Music, their much-derided 1999 album, immediately after, and how much more refreshing and inventive it sounded. I’d forgotten tracks like She’s In Fashion – a stunning swoon of a tune! Oh well. Again.

ROBYN HITCHCOCK: Love From London

I almost fell off the planet when I realised that Luxor, Hitchcock’s sublime 50th birthday acoustic album, was TEN YEARS OLD this year. Wow, that decade went by with banana skins under it. Robyn is 60 now, and looks great, with a lustrous mane of white hair and heart-achingly handsome features unblemished by time. “Rock and roll is an old man’s game and I’m determined to stay in it”, he said in a recent interview. Relieved to hear it, Robyn, especially on this showing. A departure from previous band albums with the Venus 3 and solo acoustic outings, this is a fully-rounded, satisfying album, oddly tempered by strangely 80’s-sounding production in places. Lyrically, the usual themes are there – love, sex, death, fish, vegetables etc. There’s a bit of politics creeping in which is welcome. If you’re new to Robyn this is a fine place to start.

THE HOUSE OF LOVE: She Paints Words In Red

The surprisingly garish cover and sleeve of this album – all ethnic art and masks etc – give some hint to the contents. This is a marked departure from the usual HOL sound, and appears to be a homage to their roots: it’s a straight-head Sixties pop album, with Terry Bickers’ searing guitar histrionics (description circa NME 1988) remarkably (and perhaps regrettably) reined in. Compared to HOL material of old, it can seem disappointing, but taken on its own, it is a wonderfully warm, personable, cosy, reassuring album and sometimes that is just what you need (this album saw me through a difficult time personally and will therefore always hold a special place in my heart). I saw them live in support of this album and they are still, in their mid-fifties, a fantastic live band. And yes, they did the old ones – Love In Car, Christine, Shine on et al – and they all sounded as fresh as a daisy. The House of Love, then – one of our most under-rated bands.

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