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/music/ - Music

"You may say I'm a larper but I'm not the only one. I hope some day you'll join us and the proletariat will be as one"
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The 3-people band consists of Helen Love – the person, the band’s titular vocalist/songwriter, Sheena on guitar, and rotating members on keyboards (used to be Roxy, then Mark, now it is Ricardo Autobahn). The first Helen Love song I’ve heard is probably “Debbie Loves Joey" – and I hope this amazing tune set the stage for the rest of this post.


“Debbie Loves Joey” perfectly capture the essence of Helen Love, which is a twee, lo-fi (with regards to production quality, not hip-hop beats), bubblegum pop paean (it’s a real word – look it up) song referencing Joey Ramone and innocent teenage hot summer days. Helen Love (the persona) lives in world of perpetual summer filled with teens chewing bubblegums, listening to the MC5, LOVE; KISS; RUN; SING; SHOUT; JUMP, swimming in Swansea Bay, dancing in punk-rock discotheque with glitters, playing Super Kay guitars. This humorous, self-aware, teenage twee, anti-grow up energy is the kind of energy that is conveyed through their songs.


1. Early days (early 90s)

Helen Love’s first single EP is “Formula One Racing Girl” released by Damaged Goods label.


You can still see the cute advertisement of their first single immortalized in this jpeg

The band’s first utterance ever recorded is “girl power.” This is also the first instance of the word “girl power” is sung, way before Spice Girls vacuous slogan. With lyrics like

I bought these boots to make you happy

I strapped them up to turn you on

Now I don’t care about you

I got my Huggy Bear T-shirt on”

This song is obviously about empowerment, riding on Riot Grrl wave of the early 90s. As a side, I also find it really endearing that to find the lyrics of their older songs, you must go to 90s fansite such as this one.

The band’s second single EP contains the song “Joey Ramoney” – which is exactly about what it sounds like. Helen with her dulcet voice singing about how they love Joey Ramone.

The song contains a lot of echoes to Ramones songs like “hey ho, let’s go” and “gabba gabba, hey hey.” The single would prove to be lifechanging for the band. Somehow Joey got a hold of the song. He then invited the band to NY to play in a gig. This visit to NYC is central to the background lore of the band.


2. New York visit (mid 90s?)

From “Girl About Town” – probably a semi-autobiographical song?


She got her picture in Rolling Stone

She was third from the left behind Joey Ramone

You couldn’t see her face

But I’m sure she looked great anyway

The band’s visit to NYC and hijinks with Joey Ramone is chronicled in this WalesOnline article.

This is also the first time the band play a live gig . According to their own admission, they were shy and not very good. However, not until >20 years later that the videos of their visit to NYC was compiled in a homey music video for their song “First Girls from Wales in New York”.

In the music video you can see the girls being interviewed in Central Park. Sound-bytes from the interview is featured in their song “Yeah Yeah We are Helen Love” which is also one of my favorite songs from the band.

They also wrote a really sweet thank you song about the Central Park interviewer “Matthew Kaplan Superstar” that proved to be one of my favorites as well.

However, the crown jewel of their NY visit is the collaboration with Joey Ramone himself. Helen provided a backup vocal to Joey’s song “Mr. Punchy” that was posthumously released. More importantly, Joey sang a duet with Helen for their song “Punk Boy” This song is peak Helen Love and in my opinion, also doubles as the best song Joey Ramone has ever sung. It is impossible not to smile when hearing Helen and Joey sang in a duet


Punk roots lives on some of our music on the number 1 station all day long

From Swansea Bay to the USA You’re a million stars in the sky today

Hey punk boy


3. Welsh indie terrorist (late 90s-early 2000’s)

In mid-late 90’s, Helen Love crawled to the top of the indies the honest DIY way, by recording catchy tunes and sending samples to radio. John Peel and Steve Lamacq of BBC Radio are especially fans of them. For 3 years in a row, from 1996 to 1998 a Helen Love song made it to Peel’s Festive 50. Helen Love was featured in Steve Lamacq 1998 evening session, and Joey Ramone gave a kind introduction to the band.

Despite being a niche success and cult indie hero with quite an amazing background lore, Helen Love stayed true to themselves and refused to polish their lo-fi, DIY album. In one rare interview they said

“Well there was a time in the mid 90s where stupid A+R men would come calling telling us if we changed this and that and played the game we would have lots of hit records and be in Select. Thankfully we told them to fuck off, that time was full of so called indie bands dancing to the tune of the NME, Select MM and all the other so called influential music magazines of the day. Plus of course you had to hang out in Camden Town, a particularly smelly place if I remember rightly … yuk.”

Like any other punk band worth a salt, Helen Love is not without its caustic, but hilarious commentary. “Does Your Heart Go Boom” starts with Helen Love approvingly chanting “Atari Teenage Riot” over and over, before taking the piss at Kula Shaker, Bush, and Manchester United.

Helen Love’s closest brush to fame, and the fervor pitch of their criticism of the late 90s Britpop music scene come about in “Long Live the UK Music Scene” where they ironically chant that Chris Evans and Shed Sevens will save the UK music scene. That Johnny Cigarettes and Steven Wells will keep the NME in business and in print. If being “punk” means doing whatever you want, then Helen Love truly embodies the spirit by singing songs that are critical about music industry gatekeepers. But they also always made sure that they punch up and not down. This earns them the moniker Welsh indie terrorist from Steve Lamacq. This song obviously burned a lot of bridges and ensure that Helen Love will never made it to any top charts in UK music industry. But it is still an excellent two finger salute and defiant anthem of 90s Britpop as the genre crash and burned


4. Bubblegum Kilers and Cardiff City Superstars (the 2000s)

In 2005 Helen Love released an update to “Girl About Town” called “Continuing Adventure of Girl About Town”.

The semi-autobiographical “Continuing Adventure of Girl About Town” contained a hint that the band is maturing. There is a hint of melancholy and longing, as Helen gets older and not the bubblegum punk rock teenager she once was.

Now I live on the fourteenth floor of tower block estate

And when I’m drunk I see the lights shine over Swansea Bay

I wish I was back…

Back in the New York groove.

As a side, let’s talk about football (or soccer). Helen is a Cardiff City fan – a division 2 or 3 English football team because her dad, who is a true born and bred Cardiff City fans used to take her to games as mascot so Cardiff City would win. Helen Love released a banger song “Cardiff City Superstars” in 1997, just when Cardiff is struggling in the depth of division 4.

In 2008, Cardiff City somehow fluked their way into the FA Cup final. Helen Love released their remix of “Cardiff City Superstars” for the FA Cup final. Unfortunately, the updated lyrics from the FA Cup remix of “Cardiff City Superstars” contained

Dad in heaven watching me

I’m behind the goal at Wembley

But of course in Helen Love fashion, the remix also includes humorous taking a piss at authority figures

Alan Green and the BBC, we’re the team they didn’t want to see

Ninian park will always be my home, not the IKEA stadium down the road

Cardiff City superstars, We’re not going to save the Queen (because they’re Welsh team and will boo the English national anthem played before the FA cup final)


5. (2010s-present)

The band still released tons of indie bangers. Electronica and disco synths have started to seep in, for the better. For example, “I Love Indiepop”, “Rockaway Beach”, “It’s My Club” are all modern bangers.

However, it is also probably not a /leftypol/ post without some class-struggle analysis. Starting with “Our Mum and Dad” from “Day-Glo Dreams”, whose lyrics took me by surprise

"Dad built new houses for George Wimpey Estates. That’s where he first learnt his trade. And his hands were full of blisters blood and dirt. And his life was set in love and faith and work.”

“She worked part-time, 3 days a week at the bank. Saving us bottle tops and Green Shield stamps. That damn Ted Heath he don’t understand.”

”Our mum and dad they turned older and grey. I watched Margaret Thatcher take their jobs away”

“And we pin our hopes on things that are so frail. We try so hard but fabulously fail…”

In a 3-minute synth-pop song, “Our Mum and Dad” portrays a working-class Welsh family, where Helen’s dad is a construction worker and her mom work part-time in a bank and collect grocery stamps to make ends. If this song was song by a gruff older Welsh/Scott man, with an acoustic guitar rather than indie pop synths, then it might make it as Bob Dylan-esque social commentary song. Combined with her songs about Cardiff City, this paints a picture of a shy girl who grew up in a working-class family, go to watch Cardiff City games with her dad, and dreamed to be a punk rocker. It paints a picture of working-class family that got run over by neoliberalism of Edward Heath and Margaret Thatcher. It paints a picture of a punk rock indie girl who refused to relent on her ideals.

Helen Love released “Sunburst Superkay” about 15 years earlier.

The boy next door had curly hair Like Brian May meets Yogi Bear He bought a Les Paul flash guitar On his mother’s credit card.”

You won’t get far with that stupid Kay guitar, little girl, what you do with that Woolworth’s cheap guitar?

At the time the song was an innocuous, bubblegum pop song making fun of an untalented boy who bought expensive guitar with his mother’s credit card. It was also an ode to her trusty Woolie Kay guitar, which has been dubbed “the Kalashnikovs of guitars for their durability” which is totally in character with the band’s DIY indie ethos.

But in retrospect, there is also clearly a class element there, that this wide-eyed idealistic girl who was oozing talent, capable of writing extremely catchy punk pop songs, loves Joey Ramone, but cannot afford a Les Paul guitar. There is also “Diet Cola Girl” released around the same time – a song where a young punk rocker Helen Love endlessly slated “Claire, an office executive who wears white linen dress.”


6. This is My World (2022)

Helen Love’s latest album is “This is My World” which released this year to rave reviews. There is less bubblegum punk rock there, but there is a lot of inward reflections as it is a lockdown album. Their songwriting is as on-point as ever. The album starts with “My Seaside Town” which is a bittersweet song about Swansea. “Clearing Out Mum’s House” is a beautiful song about the experience of losing her mother and clearing her out her house. It is a tear-jerker song about memory and emotion. The band saved the most poignant song for last, “This is My World” It is a stamp of where the Helen – “the girl about town” is in 2022. It contains honest admissions about her best and worst personal moments.

"“I lost my heart on long hot summer night // There’s been some dark days I’m scared being alone // I walked in sunshine next to Joey Ramone // I stood in cemetery as giant tears fell // I said goodbye at the toweling of the bell”

Surprisingly, it includes a reference to the '85 UK miners strike.

“I stood with miners in strike of ’85. We fought the government and somehow survived.”

Helen Love is a cool band, I like them a lot




Sounds good, anon. Brought a bit of smile to my face. But it's also a reminder than people have been doing fangirl bubblegum pop forever.

Unique IPs: 3

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