The House of Love

A Spy in the House of Love

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A Spy in the House of Love Review

by Andy Kellman

Chapter one: Label spends enough money on record to make a third-world country queasy. Chapter two: Record flops financially, despite its artistic triumphs. Chapter three: Label realizes financial failure of record and panics. Chapter four: Label raids band's vault and puts out hodgepodge collection cheap to help recuperate from newly incurred monetary woes. A Spy in the House of Love compiles a decent but scrapped single circa '88 ("Safe"), a handful of dolled-up tracks from the scrapped follow-up to their debut, and scraps from various ditched sessions. See a pattern? Though it sounds like a recipe for rotten cranapple pie, HOL despot Guy Chadwick was quick to toss off anything that wasn't top-rate, and occasionally his BS detector was a little off. In fact, "Marble," which comes from the initial sessions for the band's second album, was quality enough to find a spot on the band's best-of that came out eight years later. There are scattered bright spots ("Scratched Inside," "Ray") and moments where the band sounds like they're just plain bored ("Cut the Fool Down" and the appropriately titled "No Fire"). The "Love" songs (Parts II-V) peak through every other track on the second half. They veer from bluesy, stream-of-consciousness shreds to half-finished howlings and decent instrumentals. Certainly one of the least/last links in the House of Love chain, your time and money might be better spent hunting down one of their many wallet-sinking singles (like the one with a cover of the Chills' "Pink Frost" or another with a take on Cream's "Strange Brew"). A second volume of Spy is definitely called for, as the average House of Love fan's wallet sank deeper than Guy Chadwick's cheeks while scurrying for their three-part(!) singles. [The U.S. version of A Spy in the House of Love bizarrely plugs the second album's version of "Shine On" betwixt "Cut the Fool Down" and "Ray."]

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