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.
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