Simon Love - It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time Album Gatefold CD / Heavyweight Vinyl LP with mp3
TRACKLISTING: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
It Seemed like A Good Idea At The Time, the debut solo album from Simon Love, formerly of John Peel and Marc Riley favourites The Loves, is a sweary and irreverent tour de force, full of catchy hooks and offbeat lunacy. Taking its inspiration from maverick Seventies singer-songwriter Harry Nilsson and The Lovin’ Spoonful, the album features guest appearances by comedian Stewart Lee and 60s pirate radio DJ Emperor Rosko, while indiepop ensemble for hire A Little Orchestra contribute lush strings and Rob Jones of The Voluntary Butler Scheme provides brass.
Described recently by The Guardian as being “more early Kinks than the early Kinks”, Simon formed The Loves in Cardiff in 2000. After releasing their debut single on Radio One DJ Huw Stephens’ Boobytrap Singles Club and playing live dates supporting the Yeah Yeah Yeahs their second album Technicolor was made Album Of The Week in The Sunday Times. The band went on to play four Peel Sessions and as many for Marc Riley on BBC 6 Music before calling it a day in 2011.
Full of giant pop songs and peppered with bitter love stories about bad relationships, It Seemed like A Good Idea At The Time opens with the expletive-heavy “**** (Is A Dirty Word)” before moving on to jubilant lead single “The New Adam and Eve”, in which Simon threatens to “punch a man in the face, with fists made out of jellyfish” before going on to “deny him any of my piss”. There’s a Paul McCartney cover version (“Dear Boy” from Ram), a song about the voluntary removal of Simon’s penis (“My Dick”) and a song about people who fuck you around (“Motherfuckers”), before side one closes with the five minute long psychedelic wig-out that is “Wowie Zowie”.
Side two opens with the gorgeous, string-laden “Sweetheart, You Should Probably Go To Sleep” and the mid-paced 60s pop of “Don’t Get The Gurl No More” before Simon and band pull out their best Booker T groove for “The Meaning Of Love”, featuring comedian Stewart Lee reciting the definition of love straight from Wikipedia. This is followed by what in the late 70s would be called a rocker, “You Kiss Your Mother With That Mouth?”, resplendent with sax solo, before the song most likely to lead to litigation, the epic “Elton John”, written from the perspective of Elton John’s ex-wife Renate. As Simon explains; “On the eve of his wedding to Renate Blauel, Elton was having three-way sex with his boyfriend & a male prostitute (according to the book I read). He then invited both of them to the wedding. It can also be seen as a song about being dicked around by anyone I suppose.” The album closes with the title track “It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time”, with the album credits read out over the outro by 60s pirate radio DJ Emperor Rosko.
With this album, Simon Love has created his most cohesive collection of songs to date, welding magic melodic mischief to his knack for great songwriting and witty lyrics. Simon contends that It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time is likely to be the inscription on his tombstone, saying, “I’m bound to die doing something stupid that I shouldn’t have been doing”. More likely to land him on the radio than in the grave, Love's debut solo album is daring, unique, and definitely a good idea.
Indie songwriter's piss-taking, swear-packed, rather fun debut.
Opening with a swear-laden ditty that almost rivals Sleaford Mods ("**** (Is A Dirty Word)) and including a song that features comedian Stewart Lee reciting the definition of love from Wikipedia, this cocksure debut solo album from Simon Love (once of The Loves) is packed with ideas and flirts with quirk, but has just about enough wit - and good songs - to get away with it. Topics include penis amputation ("My Dick"), Elton John's wedding night ("Elton John") and motherfuckers ("Motherfuckers"), with everything bathed in a '70s post-glam grubby glitter glow, as pioneered by Luke Haines.
Quirky solo effort from Loves man.
Formerly the main man in John Peel faves The Loves, Simon Love launches his solo career with an album combining his fondness for top tunes and garage guitar with a new-found bittersweetness. Whereas Loves songs such as December Boy relied on dynamic joy and magpie melodies, this sees a man tempering his pop instincts with darker thoughts. From opener **** (Is A Dirty Word) to My Dick, a glum waltz about "cutting it off", Loves's songs encompass all of pop history as well as a McCartney cover, a fine Stewart Lee cameo and a possibly libellous song about Elton John. Very good indeed.
This is the first solo outing from the former front man of Welsh indie darlings, The Loves, and although it retains some of the musical reference points of his former band, there's a more accomplished shift towards early Nilsson and McCartney's solo outings (Macca's ‘Dear Boy’ is treated to an energetic makeover).
Lyrically, there are witty observations on love’s twists and turns coupled with a high profanity count, which means that at times Love comes on like a potty-mouthed UK version of Father John Misty. ‘Motherfuckers’ is a brilliant bit of Beatle-esque anti-The Man pop, and ‘The Meaning Of Love’ finds comedian Stewart Lee reciting the Wikipedia definition of love over a blistering Booker T/Mar-Keys instrumental workout. There's something uniquely British and wickedly funny going on here, which coupled with a finely tuned song writing skill and ear for a clever arrangement makes for a fantastic solo debut.
Be it unconditional love, tales of love unrequited or expressions of sexual desire, love, in all its forms, has persisted as pop music's central source of inspiration. However, although for many artists love may constitute the subject or theme of a song, for Simon Love, it appears to be the all-encompassing be-all and end-all. Not only is his name Love but his previous band, who, incidentally, were called The Loves, recorded four sessions with John Peel on Valentine's Day 2002 and entitled their debut album 'Love'. So, unsurprisingly, Simon Love's first solo album, 'It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time', is largely orientated around the theme of love.
First track '**** (is a dirty word)' opens with a bouncy bass line and an upbeat keyboard chord progression before the lyrics "Love is a dirty word" (sorry about the spoiler) enter the mix. The title of the opening track combined with its introductory lyrics reveal the playful humour of Love's song writing; he toys with the love-fixated persona he has created for himself and in doing so adds an extra dimension to his music. This humour is also evident in 'The New Adam & Eve' in which, amidst the backdrop of sprightly brass and jaunty string parts, he sings such lyrics as "I'm gonna kill somebody today, and make it look like suicide" and "I'm gonna dig a hole in the road, and fill it with a lot of fire". Yet, as the song progresses, it becomes apparent that such destructive actions are all part of a plan devised to enable two lovers to be alone in the world; a subtle reference to the Sartrean ideal of love, perhaps. So, as should have been expected, the sinister incongruity between the vocals and instrumentation boils down to a playful expression of love.
Despite working around the same subject throughout the album, Simon Love draws on various sources and musical forms when attending to his beloved theme. On 'The Meaning of Love', for example, an organ-driven groove plays on loop whilst writer and comedian Stewart Lee appears as a guest speaker to outline common and academic conceptions of love. Moreover, on 'Motherf**ker', Love samples a section of Hal Ashby's controversial 1971 love story Harold and Maude.
Yet, whilst Love's cultural references often work to positive effect, they sometimes translate as uninspired imitation. For example '**** (is a dirty word)' culminates in a riff which sounds suspiciously like The Troggs' version of 'Wild Thing' and 'You Kiss Your Mother With That Mouth?' is less than subtle in its homage to Lou Reed.
However, to criticise Love's use of pastiche is to risk missing the point. Just as he writes about love with an unwavering self consciousness, he seems fully aware that he is openly exhibiting his influences within his music. So, although it doesn't offer anything particularly new musically, 'It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time' is a rarity in that the twelve songs don't take themselves too seriously yet continuously offer melodious hooks, an acute sense of humour and a playful charm. If he continues in this vein then Simon Love could develop into Adam Green's English counterpart.
Simon Love dances in the night before you. He sways from side to side. He gestures into another plane. He reaches for his half-empty glass, misses by a good three feet and starts a fight with himself.
The lurching, fuzzy bass and captivating nonsense of ‘Wowie Zowie’ stand out in the middle of ‘It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time. ‘It’s unrepresentative of the album’s sound, but its shifting perspectives and humour are a comic exaggeration of the whole. Simon is the misanthropic lover, the rejected, the screwed around and the bit on the side. He’s a romantic.
On Denim‘s ‘I Saw The Glitter On Your Face’, Lawrence wisely decided that as “what I’ve got to say isn’t new, […] I’ll use this old tune”. Simon Love takes a similar approach, setting his seductions to the lushly orchestrated sounds of 1960s pop. To me, this album evokes The Left Banke and The Beatles. The casual, Ringo-esque fills on ‘Motherfuckers’ are lovely, as is the affectionate cover of Paul and Linda McCartney‘s ‘Dear Boy’. It’s only right that his superb backing band are individually thanked before kicking-out time at the end of the album. Strings and brass are not mere decoration on this album, but take starring roles, reminding me of Camera Obscura‘s ‘French Navy’ with a body count.
Indeed, Simon takes the role of BS Johnson’s Christie Malry against saccharine love ballads, clearly enjoying offing the lot of us on ‘The New Adam And Eve’. Using bombs, fire pits and, brilliantly, “a fist made out of jellyfish”, he reverse engineers Genesis just to get some alone time with a partner. Throughout the album such romantic cliches as “I only need you” are taken to their logical conclusions. On perhaps the sweetest-sounding song, Elton John is dismissed as “just a cunt”. He essentially asks the same questions as Gang of Four‘s ‘Love Like Anthrax’ monologue, but without the detachment of that band. There’s plenty of self awareness in the levity of these songs, but the reflexive anger could only come from someone whose sense of romance is bruised but intact.
Andy Gill didn’t think “what goes on between people should be shrouded in mystery”, but Simon’s concept of love is closer to Mick Farren’s definition of dreams: “things understood gradually become confusing”. It’s a head spinning sensation when private acts become public even if, like a streaker, we are ultimately responsible for our shame. Hence ‘My Dick’, a mournful waltz in which Mr Love considers removing his penis to avoid the trouble it causes him. The song builds to a circus freak show in which he is paraded as a eunuch for the crowd’s amusement. Their mirth unexpectedly grows into empathy as the song ends with a sing-along poignantly reminiscent of ‘All You Need Is Love’. Love also tries to turn the direst situation into seduction. Even after a couple of minutes lamenting the problems his libido has caused, he can’t help begging, “you’ve taken my balls, so please take my dick”.
Every song is packed with jokes I’m still laughing at after weeks of listening. Much like the aforementioned Johnson, Love equates storytelling to lying, undermining his own narratives from one song to the next. On ‘The Meaning of Love’, Stewart Lee reads from Wikipedia, cutting the strings holding our disbelief, and it’s thrilling because we’re in on the secret. It’s deadpan and utterly hilarious. It doesn’t feel smug, because Love really seems to be searching for definition. Where less skilled songwriters use cool detachment to mask timidity, Simon’s rationalisations are warm, sentimental and always engaging. Of course, “the complex and abstract nature of love often reduces discourse of love to a thought-terminating cliché”. I started drafting this in a place that claims to be ‘the premier destination for personal expression’, but the thought of these songs was enough to put a huge grin on my face. That’s one way of explaining what I mean when I say I love this album.
(God Is In The TV, 4/5)
With his long-running band the Loves, it was always hard to pin the irrepressible Simon Love down. His group's albums veered from style to style -- bubblegum to girl group, punky romps to glammy stomps -- all topped off with Love's offbeat lyrical bent. Now out on his own, Love's debut album It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time travels a similarly crooked path, but with a bit more style and savoir-faire this time out. Bringing in strings from A Little Orchestra and brass provided by the Voluntary Butler Scheme's Rob Jones, the album has a lush sound and the songs are built to match. He still swerves all over the place, from a Nilsson-esque cover of Paul McCartney's "Dear Boy" to the swinging '60s groover "Wowie Zowie," which could have been lifted from an unmade funny Austin Powers movie. He also dishes out some good-time rock & roll on "You Kiss Your Mother with That Mouth?" and classic rock piano balladry on "Motherfuckers," and lays down some very pretty chamber pop on "Elton John." It makes for a great-sounding record with something interesting happening at all times, musically and in other ways too, as Love pulls no punches lyrically, whether cursing out love in no uncertain terms on "**** (Is a Dirty Word)," lamenting the damage a certain appendage has done on "My Dick," or detailing his explicit plans to restart society on "The New Adam & Eve." It's quirky for sure, but Love pulls it off by actually being witty, and because of how catchy the songs are. One can forgive a fair amount of lyrical tomfoolery if you can sing along happily, and that's certainly the case here. He's been making really fun music for a long time, but on his solo debut Simon Love takes it a little deeper and a little weirder, and in the process has created an intriguing little oddball album that's well worth checking out if you're a fan of that kind of thing.
The debut album from Simon Love, formerly of the Loves, is unlikely to garner much radio play due to the fact that the language scattered throughout the dozen songs is more than a little… colourful, shall we say? For those familiar with the work of the Loves it will come as no great surprise that there’s a strong 60's/early 70's flavour to these songs; instantly accessible melodies, sing-along choruses, a general good-time vibe (despite being littered with lines like “everybody else can fuck off and die”), all resulting in an album that it’s impossible to sit still to and not laugh along with at times.
There’s a cover of Paul McCartney’s ‘Dear Boy’ that’s more Nilsson fronting the Beach Boys than McCartney to which Love has added a few nice psych touches and which has to rate as one of the most inspired McCartney covers ever. As for Love’s own songs…without exception Love displays his talent for writing melodies that stay with you forever on each song while also revealing that with his sense of humour he’s also restricting his audience. Songs such as ‘My Dick’ are tailor made for radio play, The melody is so contagious, the bar-room chorus will have the most sullen listener singing along and Love’s vocals are inviting, but while lyrically the song will have you laughing, a song about voluntary removing your penis is going to miss out on the plays it so rightly deserves.
The same could be said about ‘Elton John’, which sung from the perspective of John’s ex-wife Renate, is unlikely to get the exposure it truly warrants. Opening with another gorgeous Love melody, the harmonica and piano eventually reveal a simply lovely orchestral pop tune with Love’s yearning vocals bringing a story of failed love to life. Love again shows his remarkable talent for writing amusing yet touching lyrics. Especially on this track he has the listener smiling one second and welling up the next. While the song is obviously about John and Renate, it will be appreciated by anyone who has loved and lost, for whatever reason.
‘****(Is A Dirty Word)’ kicks off the album and sounds like it’s escaped from the ‘Grease’ soundtrack to begin with, Love’s breathy vocals seducing the listener into thinking that it’s a gentle pop song until all hell breaks lose towards the end of the song as the expletives creep in. As with the majority of the songs on ‘It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time’ it’s an infectious pop song perfectly played and produced.
‘The New Adam And Eve’ which features the aforementioned “everybody else can…” coupling is a string-laden pop song where Love initially appears to be on a quest to live in a world on his own (“ I’m gonna kill somebody today…I’m gonna put a bomb on a bus”), but actually it evolves into a love song where he just wants to be alone with his girl (“Leaving just you and me, the new Adam and Eve”). It’s a wonderful, upbeat number, and proves that when it comes to recreating the glorious pop of the sixties Love is up there with the Chris Wades of this world in not only being able to recreate the sound but adding a little humour and actually capturing the spirit as well of those golden times.
‘Motherfuckers’ is yet another song that deserves more than it’s destined for. The title belies the beauty in this Beatles influenced tune. With it’s yeah, yeah, yeahs, blistering guitar lines and thundering drums it’s a perfect pop song which could have been pulled (if not for the lyrics as we didn’t allow such things back then) off any classic late 60's album.
Love barely puts a foot wrong on this album, but if there is one track that lets the side down then it’s ‘The Meaning of Love’ which features comedian Stewart Lee reciting the definition of love from Wikipedia. While Lee does the job admirably, the backing track, which is Love and his boys doing their best Stax house band impression, is simply too good to be buried under these words lifted off the internet. Give us an instrumental version, Simon!
Really every track could be singled out for special mention. ‘Sweetheart, You Should Probably Go to Sleep’ is another string-driven love song. The title track is another classic Love pop song which adds trumpets and blistering guitar as Emperor Rosko in a brilliant touch reads out the album credits; a fitting end to a unique collection of songs by an artist who knows how to write a tune or two. The album is also available on vinyl, so pick up one while it’s still out there. It’s the fitting format for this collection of perfect pop songs.
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”.
The opening track of It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time, "**** (Is A Dirty Word)", puts the agenda for the album out on the table. In it Simon Love delivers a wry pop song with hooks, melody, and a fair bit of blue language expressing dissatisfaction with the concept of love. The remaining eleven tracks vary between perfect pop tunes, such as the following "The New Adam & Eve", and less conventional songs such as "Motherfuckers" "My Dick". The latter may be related in certain respects to the old King Missile song about a detachable organ, but it is cleverer and plays a good bit better to the ear. Welshman Love, whose previous artistic incarnation was as the frontman of the Loves, has a masterful feel for '60s-'70s pop craftsmanship in the manner of Emit Rhodes, Harry Nilsson and Todd Rundgren, and he displays it well here. He also has a theme, and it is a somewhat jaded, even bitter, perspective on love and relationships. While all of us who have lived can relate to some unkind sentiments on love, do we want a whole album of it? My verdict is yes. The theme plays well because Love is witty, as well as a superb songwriter. I just can't ignore an album that sounds this good and in many places, is this much fun.
Another topic is why I playing an album of offbeat and tuneful songs with negative sentiments about love makes me feel so much better, but I'm not going to dwell on that now.
(When You Motor Away)
‘It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time’ is the debut solo album from Simon Love formerly of The Loves, a band who have always had a special place in my heart. Knowing that, it kind of goes without saying that I would instantly adore a solo album by Simon Love. When Simon made 20 copies available before general release, each one coming with a handwritten note, a personally-made mixtape (cd) and a 7 inch, I instantly placed my order and have been cherishing the record and all the extras for the last two months.
Before we go any further I can assure you that any of the disclosed bias above has not influenced my writing of this review (ok, maybe just a little). That aside, 'It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time' is a fantastic pop record which combines humour, everyday emotions, love and heartbreak with sweet, uplifting melodies that are a real joy to listen to. Seriously, what more could you want from a record, this is an album that can make you laugh and cry all at the same time.
Highlights are in abundance, including ‘The New Adam & Eve’ a song that on the surface appears to be about ruthlessly destroying everyone on this planet, however when you listen to the lyrics this is a truly sweet song about just wanting to be with the one you love. If 'Wowie Zowie' does not make you go rushing for the dancefloor of a dark and sweaty indie club on the weekend then you need to start asking why you even bothered going out. The word gorgeous doesn’t even come close to describing ‘Sweetheart, You Should Probably Go To Sleep’, the way the song has been arranged ensures it will be tugging firmly on your heartstrings and have tears rolling down your cheeks. ‘The Meaning Of Love’ sees Stewart Lee reading out a Wikipedia entry for love backed by Simon and his band The Old Romantics who provide a very funky tune. ‘Elton John’ is another fine example of how to write a great song, the melodies and arrangements are more than perfect and the lyrics are superb/genius (insert whichever word you feel is most apt) “When I met you I thought you were the one, Superman and Santa Claus but double the fun”.
Simon nods his head in the direction of everything Beatles-related, who have clearly influenced his life as they have for so many of us. Simon covers Paul McCartney’s ‘Dear Boy’ and the album closer ‘It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time’ has a certain Sgt. Pepper vibe to it, bringing the curtain down on this memorable record.
I could continue to write about how great this record is, there are songs that I haven’t even mentioned and that makes me feel guilty for not drawing them to your attention. However, I feel I need to leave you to go and buy this album, listen to it, fall in love with it and form your own opinions - but if your opinion is different from mine I will seriously start to worry.
In the film ‘Art Will Save The World’, the kind-of biopic of former Auteur Luke Haines, Jarvis Cocker talks about his favourite song of the “Brit-Pop” era. The song in question is ‘The Upper Classes’ by The Auteurs. Jarvis is bemused by the way that Haines guaranteed the song would never be a hit, never receive airplay, by including an unnecessary but very obvious “cunt” in the song’s lyrics.
The debut solo album by Fortuna Pop act Simon Love (formerly of The Loves – a band I am not familiar with) brings this to mind. In this case he chooses to render about 75% of the album unsuitable for airplay.
Musically it is a very commercial record in parts, with The Divine Comedy, Elliot Smith and melodic 60s pop all being clear reference points across an eclectic set of songs. It is by no means a totally chart friendly release, but musically you’d have no issues playing the album when your friends and family were visiting.
Lyrically we are in less safe territory and Love proves himself to be as potty mouthed as your average Death Row Records album.
The opening track ‘**** (is a Dirty Word)’ is a nice piece of mid-90s indie rock which features one of the sweariest single lines on record just before the coda. Immediately afterwards ‘The New Adam and Eve’ repeats the line “everyone else can just fuck off and die” many times against a musical backdrop that evokes My Life Story or The Pipettes. ‘My Dick’ is Love thinking about cutting it off (his dick if that isn’t clear from the title). ‘Motherfuckers’ is pretty clear from the title, it is about motherfuckers in case you weren’t sure.
I have a pretty high swearing threshold so I’m quite happy with album in that regard. The songs with the greatest degree of 60s influence in the sound, the aforementioned ‘Motherfuckers’ being one of them, sound the best to my ears.
Probably the least successful song on the album is ‘The Meaning of Love’, which features Stewart Lee reading the definition of the word love from Wikipedia over an easy-listening musical back-drop. Talking based songs are an issue for me generally; they always have a limited shelf life. Drafting in Stewart Lee for the song seems like a contrivance to get some attention, if he was reading his own words in front of Love’s music that would have made more sense.
I mentioned earlier that this is an eclectic album, and Love clearly doesn’t want to present one single style across his songs. I’m a big fan of the all-over-the-map album, and love hearing a variety of musical styles on an album. However, in this case the diversity isn’t wide enough to be a hook in itself, but the lack of consistency does seem to expose the lack of a musical identity.
I don’t want that to sound like a harsh criticism, it isn’t, and Love is clearly a very capable and interesting songwriter and performer. I hope that his next album will bring his style and identity into clearer focus, I for one will be looking out for its release.
(Neon Filler, 7/10)
Simon Love is very good at writing pop songs. That was obvious from his output with the Loves but this album is even better proof - he seems to have been saving all his best ideas for his first solo record. And he’s very, very good at swearing. Those two things don’t always go together, and he won’t get the airplay he deserves as a result, but don’t let the odd “cocksucking, motherfucking dirty word” (from the otherwise poptastic ‘**** Is A Four Letter Word’) stop you enjoying a remarkably intelligent pop record, chock-full of top tunes.
It doesn’t look expensive (no recording at Abbey Road) but it sounds like it, an ambitious project with great arrangements and a breathtaking collation of classic pop moves. For example, Stewart Lee recounts Wikipedia facts about love over crazed mod-pop rhythms on ‘The Meaning of Love’, Lee’s role as king of indie-comedy and the relatively restrained language meaning that this will probably be the song to get all the attention. But really tracks like ‘You Kiss Your Mother With That Mouth’ (a glammed-up Doug Yule led Velvet Underground), the unrestrained children’s TV theme music of ‘Wowie Zowie’ and the baroque-pop-meets-girl-group title track (complete with the wacky tones of DJ Emperor Rosko, one of the few DJs not to be of interest to Operation Yewtree) deserve as much ear-time.
There’s a brilliantly arranged and sophisticated version of Paul McCartney’s ‘Dear Boy’ (the original was far more ramshackle) while ‘Sweetheart You Should Probably Go To Sleep’ is melancholy 60s pop with stately, sweeping string arrangements. And rising above all else are ‘Motherfuckers’, a magnificent revenge song that we already know and love from an earlier single, and the standout ‘Elton John’, a gorgeous 70s orchestral ballad with a transcendent chorus, telling the story from the point of view of Renata Blauel, his wife during his brief flirtation with heterosexual marriage. It would be good enough for an Ivor Novello award until Simon drops a sneaky c-bomb and you reach the devastating refrain: “you’re fucking men/ and I’m fucking alone again”.
It’s not all perfect; in the traditions of his hero McCartney, he includes a comedy castration song ‘My Dick’ that works once and is best forgotten. But apart from that, it’s a serious work with a lightness of touch that turns out to be one of the funniest and most profound pop platters in a long time.
Simon Love’s It Seemed Like a Good Idea At The Time blends a boppy indie pop sound with a dusting of crunchy processed synths. Overall the LP is pleasing to the ear and will inspire belly laughs of awkwardness in its listeners. Love’s roots within indie music are fairly well established; in the early 2000s he helped found
The Loves, an indie band with a sound similar to Love’s solo effort. Both acts are managed by Fortuna Pop, a record label that seems to enjoy nurturing a dark sense of humour in its artists. Have a listen to Chain and the Gang’s Minimum Rock and Roll Does Not Contain the Following and you’ll get a sense of this. The Loves have gone through an impressive twenty-five members, (the same amount of changes as Nine Inch Nails if you’re interested) and have a reputation for amazing live performances. With this in mind, how well does Simon Love hold up as a solo artist?
‘ISLAGIATT’ launches immediately into an ironically whimsical tone, which influences heavily throughout. The opening track Love Is A Dirty Word features a clinky piano and numerous harmonies, which give a sense of the indie-pop landscape that Simon Love has sat comfortably in for years. Track 9 The Meaning of Love brings together impressive arrangement of instruments to create fast paced and funky sound. The track has gained momentum due to its Booker T-esc beat and memorable organ. The deadpan voice of Stewart Lee is also featured, reading from a Wikipedia page. It sounds like a strange mixture, but The Meaning of Love stands pretty firmly out from the others as a unique little groove within a twinkly indie pop album filled with simple guitar and piano melodies.
The album is very funny, and listening intently to its lyrics is a big barrel of laughs. Simon Love’s whimsical tone and often dark, morbid lyrics evoke strong memories of the irrefutably grim ditties sung by Daniel Knox. However, Love’s velvety vocals and quirky harmonies keep the whole album high-spirited throughout. The LP is definitely a triumphant debut; it’s lyrically refreshing, and is well produced. ISLAGIATT will most certainly delight indie-pop fans that are looking for something that’s just a little bit different to the usual fair.
Some of the tracks however, suffer from being a bit too long and repetitive. ‘Sweetheart, You Should Probably Go To Sleep’ is disappointingly, a little bit dull, which is a shame considering how uniquely humorous the earlier tracks are. The samey and simple melody of the track simply doesn’t keep the ear interested enough.
However, on the whole the LP has a lovely rustic sound to it; you wont find much artificial alerting here, which gives ISLAGIATT a truly rough-cut sound. This is both a blessing and a curse. Love’s vocals are occasionally drowned in the crashing instruments around him, but mostly it gives the LP a clean sound.
Simon Love, previously of indie band The Loves, has gone solo and the result is bonkers. Juvenile, derivative and brow-scrunchingly odd – there’s a swinging, hand-clap chorus of ‘everybody else can go fuck off and die’ on The New Adam and Eve – but it’s somehow too gleefully ridiculous to properly dislike. Never has an album title seemed more apt.
There’s a faux-confessional ballad about Elton John’s ex-wife Renate (something the PR merrily highlights as “likely to lead to litigation”) and comedian Stewart Lee reads aloud the Wikipedia definition of love on a track titled – unsurprisingly – The Meaning of Love. More surprisingly, it's genuinely better than that description suggests.
Gratuitous swearing, ‘60s flavoured psychedelia and an unhealthy dose of persuasive confidence result in forty four minutes of confused… enjoyment? Familiar trappings of chipper indiepop keeps the chaos slightly rooted, just enough to bring you dangerously close to singing along. Is a euphoric refrain of "moootherfuckers" catchy? You tell me. Baffling, but far from boring.