For anyone that worried that the love train had come to a station stop with the end of The Loves back in 2009, you can rest easy, because lead singer Simon Love is back with a new solo album, It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time. However, there’s a scorched note at the centre of the rocket-fired record as it taps into darker themes of broken hearts, betrayal, anger and ferocious cynicism much more than the 60s infused band of yore ever did, and to be honest we can’t help but like it a lot as a result.
Set for release on the 7th August 2015, there’s also a lot more effing, jeffing and potty mouthery in the mix on the album, and again it’s a welcome addition that feels like a candid take on things that you just won’t find anywhere else. It’s not just the lyrics that have progressed either as the music has continued to build on the varied musical influences, energy and production style that made both the Knickers EP and …Love You work so well.
It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time kicks things off with what, to begin with, feels like a simple and effective indie-pop lament to the over romanticism of love in popular culture, in **** (Is A Dirty Word). This cuts a dramatic twist though just after the 1-minute halfway point like a grown up and spam fritters loving Haley Joel Osment, but instead of seeing dead people, he’s got a spleen full of cusses hidden underneath his duvet directed solely and vociferously at the very concept of love. If that’s not a good way to set the tone, we don’t know what is, but if that doesn’t do the trick, the overdriven garage rock electric guitar riff closer finishes the job off in fine form.
It’s followed by the glorious dark comedy of The New Adam & Eve, which vents on the very existence of other people in the world with Simon taking on the persona of Bret Easton Ellis’ Patrick Bateman, single-handedly leading a societal cull that leaves just him and his Eve left to repopulate the world. It’s got some class lines, solid guitar weedles, great strings and a well timed clap percussion that makes for a good backdrop for all of the violent intentions.
Next up on the tracklist is a very cool cover of The Beatles’ Dear Boy, which has got some smart effects and ringing strings. There’s more black comedy and a certain Woody Guthrie spirit to Dick with the addition of swirling surrealism and more than a few laughs relating to the potential severance of ones Johnson.
It makes a good lead into one of the album’s most impressive songs, Motherfuckers, which rails against the nonses that beset your life. It starts out at a mild step and builds up layers and walls as it goes, bringing in everything from pipes to organ melodies, hand claps, cymbal crashes and rat blasted guitar riffs. It finishes up with a speech from Harold & Maude all about the slow withering of youth, which is just as funny as everything else that’s gone before it thus far.
Wowie Zowie is a pomp stomper of epic proportions with a psychedelic guitar solo ending, Sweetheart, You Should Probably Go To Sleep takes a step into lullaby territory with a brilliant mix of bongos and strings, and Don’t Get The Gurl No More pitches things up with a combination of acoustic rhythm, trumpet blasts and an infectious soul. Simon Love’s vocals are solid throughout, but they come into their own in the slightly husky chorus, singing, “don’t get the girl no more”.
The Meaning Of Love pulls in a great speech from comedian Stewart Lee as he riffs on a description of matters of the heart over an organ funk track with a low ringing guitar riff. It’s got comparisons with Fold’s Oil Powered Machine, but without the geo-political overtones, and adds yet more variety to the Jackson Pollock slatoon fire of It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time.
It’s at this stage that a lot of good albums fade away a little, but in Simon Love’s first solo outing he manages to ratchet things up with the rock and roll stomp of You Kiss Your Mother With That Mouth. It’s got a pounding beat behind it that sounds like it could have been smashed out by Mo Tucker herself, a great garage rock rhythm and pitch perfect backing vocals from Danielle Mittee and Anna-Marie Agwu.
Added to that is the unparalleled Elton John, which tells the story of Reg Dwight’s wife, German recording engineer Renate Blauel, and the sexual complexities that led to so much tabloid coverage in the eighties. It’s a genius track that takes Simon’s vocals up a key or two and the tongue-in-cheek comedy into no-mans-land. The harmonica and piano intro is stunning, setting things up well for the acoustic guitar rhythm and a combination of electric guitar and piano riffs. There’s more great strings in play from Natalie Hudson et al, well placed Glockenspiel melodies and a light whispering of C-bombs. Gold!
The title track closes things out with Mexican spaghetti mentalness. Trumpet downplay, crazed voice-over announcements and freakout guitar go into summing things up in a very unconventional, and pretty funny end to a great album… “God speed you fancy ****ards”.
Simon Love, It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time review: 4.5/5
It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time tracklist:
1. **** (Is A Dirty Word)
2. The New Adam & Eve
3. Dear Boy
4. My Dick
6. Wowie Zowie
7. Sweetheart, You Should Probably Go To Sleep
8. Don’t Get The Gurl No More
9. The Meaning Of Love
10. You Kiss Your Mother With That Mouth?
11. Elton John
12. It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time