Book of Love
Book of Love, Lullabye, Candy Carol, Lovebubble
Several years ago a group of scientists, sociologists, and theologians gathered to solve one of the enduring questions of the modern age. Just what, exactly, was the greatest new wave song ever written? If you followed the news at all, you will remember that this august group wisely agreed on Book of Love’s 1985 hit “Boy.”
“Boy” has it all. Chiming bells, layers of synths, and deadpan vocals singing something that I think is vaguely dirty. Science got it right once again.
But “Boy” wasn’t the only hit off Book of Love’s self-titled album. “I Touch Roses” (which, again, I think is dirty), and “Modigliani (Lost in your Eyes)” will bring back memories of Aqua-Net and clove cigarettes to readers of a certain age. Other songs, such as “Lost Souls” exhibit driving synthesizers comparable to early Depeche Mode, before those guys hung out with supermodels. The Noble Rot reissue includes an extra CD of demos, live, and 12″ mixes. It is interesting to hear the original “Boy,” which is slower, sparser and more melancholy.
1988’s Lullaby, while lacking the hits of the debut album, is more cohesive and spotlights the band’s sound better. Opening with a spooky yet dancey syth-pop version of “Tubular Bells” which merges into “Pretty Boys and Pretty Girls,” Lullaby is synth-pop at its finest. And yeah, they really loved those synthesized church bells. “Melt My Heart” recalls early “Burning Up” era Madonna, while “With a Little Love,” is a ballad that should have been the first dance at every ’80s wedding. “Witchcraft” was the song that got played in the clubs, with those awesome church bell-sounding synths coming back this time with sing-songy rapping. The bonus 12″ dance mixes tracks include the “Tubular Bells/Pretty Boys and Pretty Girls” Regan’s House mix which might place a strong second in the greatest-new-wave-song-ever category.
1991’s Candy Carol was aptly named. The album seems a bit more stripped down, as if the band was trying to get to a simpler, purer pop sound. Opening with the Christmas carol-sounding “Intro,” then turning to the infectiously poppy “Turn the World,” Candy Carol combines simple pop tunes with shimmery Lush/Cocteau Twins atmospherics. While “Quiver” is reminiscent of “Boy” (Hooray! The church bells are back!), “Wall Song” is strangely menacing and dark. Candy Carol might not be the most remembered Book of Love album, but it is an extremely rewarding listen.
Book of Love called it a day with 1993’s Lovebubble. The band’s synth pop backbone is still evident, but there are different textures and moods on this album, with the standout ambient track “Sunday A.M.” nestled within a strong collection of simple, extremely catchy nursery rhyme type pop music.
While most will know the hits off the self-titled debut, the entire Book of Love catalog is worthy of rediscovery. While “Boy” is finally being recognized as the greatest new wave song ever, each album is full of catchy, dancey pop nuggets. And man, did they love those awesome synth church bells.
Noble Rot/Collectors’ Choice Music: www.ccmusic.com