Helen Love have been producing joyous, lo-fi fan-letters to pop music for almost 30 years. It’s an affection that has been documented over countless singles, and 8 previous LPs. In the past, the band have released recordings on Damaged Goods, Che Trading, and Elefant amongst others, but their brand spanking new ‘Power On’ LP comes courtesy of the lovely people at Alcopop! Records.
Continuing the theme set by their recent ‘Songs From My Teens’, Helen Love delve further back in time to reach into that glitterpop fuzz fest that was the mid 1970s. But don’t be fooled into thinking that this is that specially filtered “hilarious” 1970s of ‘good times’ and hen parties, oh no this is a full on barrage of sonic gobstoppers and space hoppers, from a far more familiar place. A 1970s that’s pebble dashed with My Guy magazine, Ronco Chop-o-matics, cheap stereos and the giving and receiving of wedgies at the bus stop.
‘Debbie Take Control (of the stereo)’ mixes plenty of ‘Hey Ho Let’s Go’ with unexpected guest appearances by Elvis Costello and Karen Carpenter. Lesson learned, you don’t want to muck about with Debbie when she wants to play some records.
‘Jackie from the Estate’ is another mess, we’re told but we decide to love her anyway. Not as much as we love that power guitaring that holds it all together though.
‘Top of the Pop Charts’ is a 2 minute dig at saturation marketing, when she sings ‘I can hear you when I’m sleeping, you just never go away’, we think Helen speaks for us all.
‘Dead in My Head’ celebrates (hurrah! yes really) the end of a relationship, and the guitar even switches to playing Altered Images ‘I Can Be Happy’ sound-a-like riffs to really hammer the point home. The name-dropping continues as ONJ is singled out for a little bit of Helen love in ‘Sandra Dee’, and Donna Summer brushes up with the New York Dolls in ‘Star’.
‘Power Of the Music’ is spattered with arcade game noises and a ‘Dance to the Music’ refrain. For all its frantic drum machines and Jive Bunny snatches of records you think you’ve heard before, it’s very apparent that Helen Love don’t entertain dull moments. The whole album is like a Lucozade fuelled rush through ten years of pop; via after school television with a bucketful of Smarties whilst trying to change gears on your Chopper.
‘On My Own’ sounds like it might be an honest modern day response to Eric Carmen’s ‘All By Myself’. However instead of Eric’s lachrymose despairing at the lack of available company while sobbing into a piano, Helen Love seem to like it better when they’re on their own, “I’d like to put you in a big cardboard box, and stick that box up in the loft”. The guitars buzz around the songs like teenage mutant ninja wasps on a summer afternoon, and the machines pop away like an early video game gone rogue.
Helen Love are as serious as you want them to be, and ‘Power On’ is a high energy spangled monument to bubblegum punk, with pop culture references that bounce and stretch like a fistful of Potty Putty. Build a City on Rock and Roll? Absolutely! But let’s make it out of bubblegum… and punk.
Need more sugar?
Power On is released on 20.11.20. and is available to buy via Alcopop! Records
And who knows, it might even be possible to (soda)stream it as well…
Follow Helen Love on Twitter @HELENLOVE123