Helen Love

Love and Glitter, Hot Days and Muzik

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Helen Love's first full-length album, Love and Glitter, Hot Days and Muzik, is a bit of a departure for the band. The rinky-dink cheap synths and toy keyboard sound is replaced with a fuller sound (although the drums are mostly provided by machines still) courtesy of producer Steve Gregory (of Pooh Sticks fame). The almost stalker-ish fascination with the Ramones (both lyrically and in the three chords and a cloud of melody musical approach) still remains in trace amounts, but the focus has shifted to Atari Teenage Riot and hardcore techno. Songs like "Jump Up and Down" and the ABBA-ish "Atomic Beat Boy" make the case that being a punk girl or boy in 1999 meant being a digital punk. Fair enough, but not a case many people were making outside of Helen Love. Despite these changes, the record still is replete with the things that made Helen Love such a wonderful band: the lyrics are smart and funny, the melodies are honey sweet and twice as sticky, Helen's voice is beautifully teenaged, and their love of the music they play and sing is infectious. Tunes like "Love and Glitter, Hot Days and Musik," "Does Your Heart Go Booooooom," "BigBigKiss," "Better Set Your Phasers to Stun," and "MC5" are pure bubblegum punk that are just as good as the band's early singles. The new dance music trappings never overshadow the melodies and even are successful in most cases because they are so dorky and tongue-in-cheek. The only song that doesn't work is the new version of Helen Love's classic "Punk Boy" featuring Love trading lines with her hero, Joey Ramone. Somehow his presence ruins the pretense of Love being the world's biggest Ramones fan who sits around pining for Joey. Plus it is the one song that shouldn't have a full band treatment, as it sounds overly slick and pro compared to the original. Despite this stumble (and thanks to the clutch of fab songs and Gregory's unerring grasp of how to make great-sounding pop records), Love and Glitter, Hot Days and Muzik is a fun and pretty darn cool record.

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