Maybe it's all that fog. Maybe it's the massive unemployment. Maybe it's because they haven't won the World Cup in soccer for ages. Maybe it's because Bass Ale sales are lagging. Maybe it's because England has become a second-rate power.
Nah, it must be the fog. Because for the last 10 years or so, England has been unleashing upon an unsuspecting world an unceasing string of mondo depresso rock 'n' roll bands. It's the soundtrack for all those little people who get a haircut a week and spend four hours each day practicing That Serious Blank Look in the mirror.
We're talking about music to hang yourself by--The Stranglers, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Peter Murphy, Depeche Mode, Ministry and all those industrial music bands. It wouldn't be surprising to find that some of the albums come with a noose.
But as Bob Dylan himself once said, "The times they are a'changin'." Even in England. Maybe the sun didn't actually break through, and the Queen probably didn't really smile, but there are some new developments in the English music scene.
The House of Love, opening for Peter Murphy on Monday, Aug. 6, at The Ventura Theatre, are part of the new British sound. Or maybe it's just the old sound reinventing itself for the umpteenth time. A guitar band, featuring absolutely no synthesizers, The House of Love sounds like The Byrds reincarnated 25 years later as Englishmen in Mister Rogers' neighborhood. The music is relentlessly upbeat, uplifting and positive--no noose, but no smile button either.
The House of Love was named after a novel by Anais Nin and has been around for four years since forming in London. They have a big hit on KROQ, which ponders the imponderable in a foot-tapping manner, "I Don't Know Why I Love You."
"I started the band four years ago," said singer/guitarist Guy Chadwick in a recent phone interview. "I had some songs and an idea of what I wanted the band to sound like. Originally, I was influenced heavily by The Cure--they're really good live."
"We've been touring since last October--in America since May, and the last five weeks opening for Peter Murphy."
Lots of chiming guitars, happening harmonies, that's The House of Love's music. Good music to end the Cold War by, perhaps.
"So far," said Chadwick, "our fans have generally been normal people who don't dress in any particular way. Even the people in black--Peter Murphy's audience--seem to like us. We just want to sell a lot of records."
These guys would've made zillions if they'd have appeared in 1967.
But maybe they'll make you dance at The Ventura Theatre; if not, there's always time to hang yourself when Peter Murphy comes on.