The House Of Love - A State Of Grace (Cherry Red)

The House Of Love – A State Of Grace (Cherry Red)

Following hot on the heels of the label’s Burn Down The World 8CD box set reviewed in August, our music editor commented “What an amazing band The House Of Love truly were. Or possibly still are…”. Well, I can confirm that there is no “possibly” about it. With this band’s new album A State Of Grace, The House Of Love prove they still have what it takes for producing great music and well-written songs. It may have been 9 years since She Paints Words In Red, the band’s last album, but this doesn’t suggest that they are in any way spent, just that the audience may be thirsty for their sound.

Maybe Guy Chadwick has been a little choosy about what he feels a worthy number for inclusion, considering the time between this and their last, but every one of these songs has its place and it’s not like looking at a magnolia wall. Starting with ‘Sweet Loser’ which from the start, pitches itself in Louisiana. From the howling harmonica that announces its beginning, the cool pace that the song takes up to the hypnotizing vocal that Guy lays down. The dish set before us is just the perfect starter. A picture that is painted from Chadwick’s lyric suggests an almost black magic spell being cast, when he sings “Honey, you’ve got the mind to look through my soul. Every little dream and hope that I own…” an unnerving sentiment and what comes next is no-less unsettling. “Just give me all your money, everything you own, every last emotion, then you can call me home.” A number every bit as good as any of the band’s early offering, although this time with the age and experience that 34 years has provided.

Spinning off the path set by the first song, ‘Light of the Morning’ picks up the pace of when Primal Scream released Give Out But Don’t Give Up, rock and roll that followed the dance euphoria of ‘Screamadelica’. Less black magic this time, then it is a tale of life and loss. It is told in such an upbeat manner, both musically and vocally, that it breathes life into these dark days. You won’t leave this song feeling downcast. Refusing to stand still, another key change as ‘Melody Rose’ breezes into view, wearing its size 12 DMs, this is solid. My immediate feeling was what I remember on first hearing ’93s Audience With The Mind. This is an impressive number that will leave a lasting memory. A solid rhythm that takes up residence throughout, as its bassline rides the surge of each cymbal crash and tempo set by the beat of the drum, its pace certain to leave a lasting impression.

Three songs in and it’s clear that as a songwriter, Chadwick is writing from muscle-memory. Each of these songs every bit as good as anything he has previously lent his hand to. Following in a similar vein to ‘Melody Rose’, served up next is ‘Clouds’ and proceeds to knock any cobwebs that may have accumulated during lockdown. As our protagonist tells us “…what you do with your money honey, get your head out of the clouds…”. Or perhaps the songwriter is directing the song at himself and after producing such a truly remarkable work, it’s clear it did the trick. Onto ‘Into the Laughter’ and ‘Hey Babe’, songs that bear the HoL tag and numbers in which a beautiful vista could be painted on the walls of your room, lights that are falling like stars from above. I can see that these are ‘end of show’ numbers, those that allow the audience to descend from the highs of earlier in the set, safely and with lighters (or mobile phones these days), held aloft.

We’re only halfway through the album and ‘Sweet Water’ is another unnerving offering, where Guy offers what can only be the benefit of experience. The narrative begins, “When your heart is full of sweet infatuation, that’s when your heart is mine.Sweet water, sweet water, sweet wine…”. It’s been no secret that Guy has had difficulties in this area and here this is conveyed eloquently, accepted, and I can only guess has been part of the healing process.

Two country tinged numbers follow as ‘Queen of Song’ and ‘In My Mind’ follow. Of course, it’s nothing new, rock musicians using this form of song writing but this is immaterial. Coming immediately to mind is The Charlatans Tellin’ Stories, back in ’97, but of course some song writers do it better than others. Chadwick slips into this genre with ease, the tempo and pace just fitting his use of vocal and songwriting. A genre I’m not totally sold on, but here it just works.

On the home stretch now, as the album’s title track comes into earshot. This is a vibrant rock number which after a mellow release picks up a steady pace and with a delicious lyric, I raised a broad smile as I was met by, “…just look at your face, just look at your eyes, you’re just not there…”, I’d love to know who exactly the songwriter is singing about? Songs that place the listener in the middle of a situation are just like a narcotic, moreish, although here with no danger to the listener.

‘Dice Are Rolling’ follows, rock n roll, played at a furious pace. Kicking up the dirt Chadwick sings “…I was born on a bad day, my mother kicked and screamed on a bedded pain. I never made it up again, I just walked alone in a room of shame…”, a fantastic number, whose heartbeat is visible as the vein in its neck protrudes and the “…dice keep rolling, rolling, rolling…”. Finally a dose of country slide is provided, in the form of ‘Just One More Song’. Perhaps this is an open letter, as the song begins “Just one more song for you, for a heart that’s now turning blue. I have to say that I lied to you when I said that I needed you…” and again the widest smile spreads across my face as the number delves the depths and sucks on a lemon.

This might not be the best sign off, but this bittersweet number is another case where the listener sits in the gallery, observing every nuance of those involved. Maybe I was wrong, perhaps this was the perfect sign-off after all. I’m leaving the album with a memory I won’t forget, as I realise we’ve come full-circle and in the same shadow that ‘Sweet Loser’ cast. Life isn’t all roses, they’re more likely to thrive in the garden and sometimes not at all. Melodies however, can take root anywhere and those on this album have certainly done that with me. Thank you Guy, great album.


God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.