Book of Brilliant Things - Five things we’ve loved this week - 19th September 2022
It's the return of the "book of brilliant things" blog - random new albums, old albums and news that's tickled the fancy of Back In Black(heath) this week...
1. The House of Love - A State Of Grace
It's been nine years since the last House Of Love album - the sublime and marvellous She Paints Words In Red. New album, A State Of Grace, only their seventh proper album in some 35 years, is released this week, on 10-inch double vinyl. This is irritating and I can't just click the button on my automatic turntable - I am sure I will soon absent-mindedly do this and bugger my needle...
But lazy vinyl playing aside, this is great. The mercurial guitarist Terry Bickers has once again departed, though I understand on amicable terms, so he may return again, who knows? The new line up are great, featuring ex-members of Idlewild, Someone Anyone and a new drummer who has, more strangely, played with Steve Hackett from Genesis (if wikipedia is to be believed...).
This album is a bluesier, dirtier House Of Love, with a dash of country as well as their usual guitar jangle. It sounds a little like the album John Squire heard in his head when trying to make The Stone Roses' Second Coming album, but failed to translate into reality. Clouds and Melody Rose would have made that (dreadful) album a whole lot better. Into The Laughter and Hey Babe are much more familiar HoL territory, but the whole album hangs well together. The standout is Dice Are Rolling, which is rollicking, jangling wonderfulness.
This is another incarnation of The House Of Love, with the new additions giving them a broader, sound and at no stage does this feel like Guy Chadwick is trading on past glories. There are not many artists still making music after 35 years you can say that about.
We are off to see them on Sunday, on the guest list as Guy recently repaired our sash windows (he and two of the band do this as their sideline as The Sash Guy). I'd thoroughly recommend the new album and their workmanship!
2. Who gives a fuck about an Oxford comma?
Well, clearly new Secretary of State for Health, Thérèse Coffey, who highlighted her dislike for this in her first communiqué to health service staff. One might have thought there would be more focus on the 135,000 plus vacancies, or thanking staff for the amazing job they continue to do under immense pressure, post Covid. But no.
However, at least this did remind me of Oxford Comma, the cracking song by Vampire Weekend, which I have been playing loads and chuckling at the lyrics "All your diction drippin' with disdain; through the pain, I always tell the truth".
3. Suede - Autofiction
Having seen them last week at a secret (shh!) gig, playing under the pseudonym Crushed Kid, I am pretty familiar with what to expect from Suede's latest release (I Heard A Rumour....Suede aka Crushed Kid live at The MOTH Club - 5th September 2022). Autofiction is their ninth album proper and their fourth since their unexpected and quite marvellous reformation back in 2010.
It's a back-to-basics, no-holds-barred, stomper, all squalling guitars, post-punk styled riffs, channelling Magazine, Banshees, even Killing Joke. The lyrics are the most direct Brett's ever presented, drawing on the death of his mother, struggling with anxiety (I hear you Brett, been there, done that, hope you are ok), and missing your youth.
That Boy On The Stage is The Fall playing The Cult's Big Neon Glitter from their fabulous 1985 album, Love. Shadow Self is so Magazine, you can hear Howard Devoto singing it on stage with them and they are channelling their inner Joy Division on It's Always The Quiet Ones.
It's heady stuff (as opposed to head music) and again, like The House Of Love, they have completed reworked their sound, whilst still sounding exactly like them. I will be playing this album lots over the coming months, and the news that they are touring the US with Manic Street Preachers has me starring longingly at my piggy-bank....THAT would be some gig!
4. Tenement Kid - Bobby Gillespie
I finally got round to reading Bobby Gillespie from Primal Scream's autobiography, covering his life up to the release of the era-defining Screamadelica album, an LP that along with New Order's Technique perfectly combined indie rock and dance music in a way we had never seen or heard before.
The book is great - unflinchingly honest, with no apology for the band's antics and their legendary drug consumption. Throughout, there's an absolute self-belief that they had something special to offer, even when their music initially met with much disinterest, a band out of time, that suddenly caught up and overtook the trendsetters and hipsters.
Most touching is his honesty about his family, and the world view and political beliefs that his father introduced him to that still drive his belief system today. It's not perfect and his critique of “coked-out” Live Aid participants feels very "physician, heal thyself". But it's evocative, never boring and it made me reach out for Screamdelica and wonder what happened to my copy of Sonic Flower Groove...
5. The Beths - Expert In A Dying Field
New Zealand's The Beths are back, Back, BACK with their third full album in five years. Expert In A Dying Field motors along like all their albums. It's another exhilarating exercise in power-pop perfection, with catchy hooks, infectious harmonies, and joyous singing. All this contrasts sharply with the album's themes, examining singer Elizabeth Stokes' recent break up with a partner. It dissects this romantic disappointment, along with her own anxieties and her fear of dying. Best Left picks at the wounds of this lost love, but concludes “some things are best left to rot”. When You Know You Know could be Sheryl Crow, if she was backed by Fountains Of Wayne (I'd love to have heard that!).
Closer 2AM leaves us with a different sound to their usual romp - cinematic, even touches of afrobeat in its guitar flourishes, before its crashing, swirling conclusion. Great stuff.
See you next week, stay safe, x