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Helen Love: Smash Hits

Joyous DIY punk-pop from the Welsh Ramones.

Helen Love Smash Hits album cover

Like their musical heroes, the Ramones, Swansea-based indie veterans Helen Love have proudly stuck to the same breakneck bubblegum punk-pop formula for over 20 years. Their releases have become rare during the past decade, but this eighth album is an effusive return to some favourite motifs and familiar obsessions.

Having played with Joey Ramone in 2001, they’re clearly still buzzing on the experience, paying homage in First Welsh Girl In New York City and You Can’t Beat A Boy Who Loves The Ramones, which must be the most Helen Love song title ever.

Tributes fall closer to home in the sweetly self-explanatory Thank You Poly Styrene, though even the more serious songs are sprinkled with cheerfully naff pop-culture references, from Ghostbusters to Super Mario Bros, recycled Bonnie Tyler lyrics and Van Halen keyboard riffs.

The signature blend of giddy female vocals, toyshop electro and fizzing C86 guitars becomes a little samey over the long haul, though Spaceboy is an agreeable detour into sci-fi glam rock and We’ve Got A Formula One Team a Blondie-quoting blast of sugar-rush Nintendo punk.

Even if Love’s knowing, faux-naive tone grates at times, behind it lies a heartfelt fantasy of teenage crushes, cool record collections and endless summer.

Stephen Dalton has been writing about all things rock for more than 30 years, starting in the late Eighties at the New Musical Express (RIP) when it was still an annoyingly pompous analogue weekly paper printed on dead trees and sold in actual physical shops. For the last decade or so he has been a regular contributor to Classic Rock magazine. He has also written about music and film for Uncut, Vox, Prog, The Quietus, Electronic Sound, Rolling Stone, The Times, The London Evening Standard, Wallpaper, The Film Verdict, Sight and Sound, The Hollywood Reporter and others, including some even more disreputable publications.