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Helen Love: Smash Hits *

Track List

>First Girl from Wales in New York
>We've Got a Formula One Team
>Thank You Polystyrene
>You Can't Beat a Boy Who Loves the Ramones
>Mario Kart Grand Prix
>Yes We're in a Band That We Love
>Long Live the Modern Lovers
>Sheila B. Devotion
>No Hit Radio
>Belle of St. Mark
>Stardust and Glitter

Album Notes

Since Helen Love's formation in 1992, fans of the band know they can count on a few things. There will be frequent mentions of their hero Joey Ramone, there will be wonderfully cheesy keyboards and drum machines, and the tunes will be some of the catchiest punk-pop around. Their 2016 album, Smash Hits, is no exception. Kicking off with "First Girl from Wales in New York," Helen Love waste no time in dropping in some Joey Ramone samples and making reference to New York City, their favorite city of all. The use of samples, wonderfully corny as it is, and the terrace chant background vocals are newfangled additions to the Helen Love sound, and they run throughout the whole album. Helen and the band don't just stick to Ramone-based adulation, they also laud punk pioneer X-Ray Spex's Poly Styrene on "Thank You Polystyrene" and make cheeky reference to Eurodisco diva Sheila & B Devotion on the glitterball-flashy "Sheila B. Devotion." Another favorite topic is the band itself, and numerous songs here, especially "Yes We're in a Band That We Love," are the kind of self-referential fun they've been dealing out since they began. It's a pretty standard Helen Love album, from song topics to sound, which is a little surprising after the seeming sea change of 2013's Day-Glo Dreams, which saw the band getting a little serious and expanding into new wave sounds. They've thrown out pretty much everything they experimented with there and stick to the basics. Only the nostalgically melancholy "Stardust and Glitter" takes a similarly heartfelt approach, and it's one of the best things here. Perhaps on their next album, they'll go a little further down the road of combining silly punk-pop and semi-serious new wave into something a little more organic. As for Smash Hits, it's a little slight and a little silly, even for Helen Love. That being said, it's also a lot of fun, as usual, and it's definitely worth checking out if you've made it this far. ~ Tim Sendra


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