Review Summary: With its undoubtedly victorious success, and the fact that it has 'Sound of the 80's' stamped all over its sound, 'Love' is the example of a band finding their feet and coming to terms with their true talents.
Regardless of whether you were born in the 80's, 90's, or even within the 21st Century, you will surely have heard arguably one of the biggest sounding Rock anthems, 'She sells Sanctuary', at least once. Thing is, you don't even have to seek out The Cult's second and certainly most successful album, 'Love', to hear it, since it can easily be discovered in pretty much any Rock or Heavy Metal compilation, can be heard daily on Radio stations, and the video itself can also be viewed frequently on Kerrang!, MTV, Scuzz or perhaps even the Q! Music channel.
Of course, what I'm actually getting at here is the fact that The Cult were verging on worldwide success even before 'Love's release date was announced. People who lived through and loved every single Rock band that the 80's had spawned will surely tell you that The Cult couldn't be any more popular had they made a film based on the album itself. It's actually quite interesting and indeed surprising to me how nobody on Sputnikmusic has even reviewed this album yet.
Musically, this album has 'Sound of the 80's' written all over it-lush melodies, crisp clean production, groovy bass lines, sinister yet (in some fans' eyes, certainly) 'sexy' vocals and some of the biggest guitar hooks and riffs you could ever find on a Rock album. Whilst this all sounds very fantastic and fabulous however, it is actually nowhere near a perfect record. Let's start with what I perceive to be the negative aspects of this record.
One thing that really does get on my nerves is how much Ian Astbury has to repeat the word 'Yeah' in near enough every single song, and then decides to do the same damn thing with each song's title. Now, some may very well think this to be an advantage to the band's sound, but fifty minutes of this same annoying vocal style can really disappoint the listener, especially if they aren't a fan of 80's Rock. Another negative, yet less flawed aspect of the vocals is the style in which Astbury mainly sings. He doesn't sing like this on a consistent basis throughout 'Love', but as evident on 'Nirvana', 'Big Neon Glitter', 'Phoenix', 'Hollow Man' and 'Revolution', it can certainly take away from the well-executed guitar work, and for that matter, the talent of the other instruments as well. This isn't to say Astbury is a bad singer, just that he could have done with varying his style a bit more.
This he does on both the anthemic title track and the glorious, yet ever-so-slightly-less-successful- than-'She Sells Sanctuary' single 'Rain', which make for two of the most brilliantly written songs in the band's career. On the title track, Astbury takes a step down from his significantly high notes, and actually makes his vocal talents flow with the music itself, wherein his sometimes melodic, sometimes fascinating voice actually contributes to the effectiveness of the lyrical content. 'Rain' follows in a similar way, and is perhaps why it was chosen to be the second of two songs from 'Love' to be a successful single.
What is absolutely stellar about this album is the way in which Billy Duffy and Jamie Stewart make their respective instruments flow and bond with each other, as if they were to have a long-lasting relationship. Each and every song bar the luscious 'Big Neon Glitter' features at least one of Duffy's excellent solos, and you can tell just how he manages to fit them in at exactly the right time. At times, as on the semi-epic 'Brother Wolf; Sister Moon' and equally as sinister 'Phoenix', the solos are used to introduce the song in such spectacular fashion, and as evident on exciting opener 'Nirvana' and slower-paced 'Hollow Man', the solos weave their way throughout at every passing moment.
Another noticeable stronghold within 'Love' is the excellently written lyrics. 'Brother Wolf; Sister Moon' feels very 'natural' in its somewhat relaxed and laid-back approach, involving a nice twinkling of keyboards, in which Astbury croons
'And the wind will blow my fears away
Will dry my tears away
And dry my tears away
And blow my fears away...', giving off a melodic approach to the song itself. On the equally as sinister yet still slightly laid-back 'Hollow Man', Astbury uses his vocal talents to state that
'It's so nice to get away, get away for a day
I see a hollow man, gun in hand, gun in hand, it points my way...'. These extracts both signify an excellent approach to the forethought of the band, which was yet another contribution to their ever-increasing talents.
Chances are, if you've heard anything other than 'She sells Sanctuary' or 'Rain', you'll know that The Cult were definitely a band to put their foot down and create some truly memorable music, specifically in the 80's. 'Love' is a perfect example of this, and even if the music gets a bit too repetitive for your tastes,or the sometimes nasal-sounding nature of Ian Astbury's vocals puts you off, there is still enough originality and panache to justify this album's successful presence within the world of Rock.