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Helen Love

Probably the biggest Ramones fans in Wales, if not the entire United Kingdom and maybe the world, Helen Love are heavily inspired by the simple punk sounds of their idols to say the least, but also add some surprising elements to forge a sound that is all their own. Early records had the lo-fi charm of the band singing along to a tinny AM radio cranking out sunny, funny tunes, but as they progressed, subsequent records added hardcore techno, glitter rock, synth pop, and disco to their sound, which made records like 2000’s Love and Glitter, Hot Days and Muzik and 2013’s Day-Glo Dreams oddball pop delights. By the time of 2020’s Power On, the band had rediscovered their poppy punk roots and, as always, their undying love for Joey Ramone, which came across as clearly as a power chord through a giant Marshall stack. Formed in Cardiff, Wales, in 1992 the band consisted of the pseudonymous Helen Love on bratty shout-along vocals, Sheena -- who is, of course, a punk rocker -- on buzzsaw guitars, and Roxy and Mark on dueling Casio keyboards, which also doubled as drum machines. Their low-tech, high-energy sound landed them on the estimable U.K. indie Damaged Goods, where they released their statement of purpose with "Formula One Racing Girls" in 1993. (This single, it should be noted, coined the term "girl power" a good three years prior to the Spice Girls' media blitz.) The unabashedly adulatory "Joey Ramoney" followed in 1994, itself followed by "Punk Boy," a giant step melodically and lyrically that Northern Ireland's Ash later covered on their Crazed and Confused EP. Helen Love's next step was the 10" EP Summer Pop/Punk Pop, a five-song celebration of "Summer Pop Radio" and related activities that are like a '90s U.K. indie answer to the Beach Boys' Summer Days (And Summer Nights). Released in 1995, the "Bubblegum" single introduced a new trick into the group's repertoire by unashamedly nicking the chorus from the Specials' "Much Too Young" for the flip, "Let's Go." The three-song Ahead of the Race CD-EP introduced the group to the digital era with a slightly mellower sound, but 1996's Beat Him Up was punkier than anything since the group's debut. Their final release for Damaged Goods, the four-song We Love You EP, was probably their strongest work, but a dispute with the label led to the group signing with the slightly larger Che imprint in 1997. The resulting EPs, Does Your Heart Go Boom and Long Live the UK Music Scene, were made without Sheena, but she was back on board for the group's first full-length album, 2000's Love and Glitter, Hot Days and Muzik. The album was reissued a year later by Damaged Goods with extra tracks added. Apart from a holiday single (a cover of Joey Ramone and Debbie Harry's "Merry Christmas I Don't Want to Fight"), the group was quiet until the release of the Bubblegum Killers EP in 2005. Helen Love's next single, 2006's "Junk Shop Discotheque," was their first for new label Elefant. They followed it up with the vocoder-heavy It's My Club and I'll Play What I Want To in early 2008. After another single in 2009 ("Calm Down Dad"), the band took a bit of a break from recording. When they resurfaced in the summer of 2013 with a new single, "Atomic," the group sported a new synth pop-influenced sound to go with their pogo-ready punk-pop. Their fourth album, Day-Glo Dreams, was released by Elefant in July of 2013 and followed by a Christmas single, "Hark the Herald Angels," later that year. After two more singles for Elefant in 2014, "Pogo Pogo" and "Where Dylan Thomas Talks to Me," a tribute to Welsh poets Dylan Thomas, Vernon Watkins, and Nigel Jenkins, the group moved over to a new label, Alcopop! to release the 2016 album Smash Hits. After releasing a glam rock tribute to a Welsh footballer -- "A Boy from Wales Called Gareth Bale" -- later that year, the group took a bit of a break before returning with the 2018 single "Double Denim." After releasing the holiday-themed "Glitter Star" the band began working on their fifth album. It featured them returning to a more guitar-centric sound inspired by their rediscovery of early punk and power pop. After the release of a standalone single cheekily titled "Now That's What I Call Songs from My Teens," the band issued Power On in late 2020.
© Stewart Mason & Tim Sendra /TiVo


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