Loveblows and Lovecries: A Confession

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Taking all the many strengths of Lovesighs and never looking back, Loveblows is a stunner, utterly out of time and place in 1993 and all the better for it. As the culmination of the original three-person partnership with Coleman and as a formal album debut both, it's simply wondrous, a collision of hip-hop rhythms, delicate art rock, and more into something all its own. There are two absolute standouts that should be heard by just about everybody if at all possible, the first being "Sweetheart Raw." One of the many partnerships the No-Man and Japan family trees would form over time, it features all core Japan members minus David Sylvian -- bassist Mick Karn, drummer Steve Jansen, and keyboardist Richard Barbieri, the latter soon to join Wilson full time in Porcupine Tree. Karn's instantly recognizable fretless work and Wilson's sometimes stinging, sometimes heartbreakingly beautiful guitars set the tone, Bowness delivers a portrait of a ruined life with astonishing empathy, and the result simply amazes. The second is "Heaven's Break," the final tune and one of Bowness' own favorite songs, his vocals flying up to the sky as Coleman and Wilson create a combination of strings, guitar and synth -- but no beats -- to die for. Plenty of other treasures can be found throughout, starting with Coleman's violin piece "Loveblow," accompanied by Richard Felix's moody cello and Wilson's equally so production, and the immediately following "Only Baby," a lush, modern disco/techno classic in the making that slams into life and doesn't stop. When Wilson adds piano and strings to the chorus behind Bowness' soaring vocal, it's note-perfect inspiration. "Tulip" is another winner, a great lyric about needing the just right someone in an equally ugly and lovely world. Quite why something so at once creative and exploratory and on the other hand perfectly, engagingly modern pop never truly hit big will simply have to be one of the great mysteries of music.

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