Punk pop: Is it time for you to listen to welsh pop-punk outfit Helen Love? Why, yes. It is. These riot grrrls coined the phrase ‘girl power’ and only listen to the Ramones…
Back in the days when I was filled with youthful energy, I used to wake up at five o clock in the morning in order to listen to my favourite radio show. Hosted by Rob da Bank and Chris Coco, it was called The Blue Room (not to be confused with the wonderfully eerie Blue Jam radio show by Chris Morris) and it played a lot of experimental and ambient music – perfect for Sunday mornings.
One morning my tender fifteen year old ears were exposed to a whole new sound when the song Junk Shop Discotheque by Helen Love blasted out from my speakers – and that was when my love affair with bubblegum pop-punk began.
Helen Love formed in the early 1990s as part of the flourishing riot grrrl scene. The first incarnation of the band was a group of three girls who met at art college: Sheena, Roxy and of course, Helen. The girls bonded over their mutual love of The Ramones (which to this day are the only band that Helen claims to ever listen to) and decided to form a band.
In fact, it was this incarnation of the Helen Love band who coined the phrase ‘girl power’ in their debut single ‘Formula 1 Racing Girls’ (released in 1993 – a year before the Spice Girls formed and made the phrase their own). They planned to split after this first release. However twenty singles on they are still going strong, albeit it with a couple of line-up changes.
So what does the music sound like? Pure joy. They sing of summer days and summer nights and beautiful summer boys. Oh, and they sing about Joey Ramone too. They sing about him a lot. He turned out to be a good pal to the band by inviting them to play on his tour in America, and he also recorded vocals on their track ‘Punk Boy’ (Helen later repaid the favour by providing backing vocals on Joey’s song ‘Mr Punchy’). They are unique from other punk-influenced bands in that they don’t have a drummer – instead they rely on backing tracks from their Casio keyboard. Put one of their records on your stereo and your speakers will implode with glitter, rainbows and punk-rock unicorns.
Another element of Helen Love’s appeal is their indie attitude. Their artwork is an immediately recognisable cut-and-paste style. Helen designs each cover herself and in the early years of the band was ‘the one with the nail scissors and the pritt stick’. They have never reached the dizzying heights of the charts because their singles are generally released as a limited run.
Why should you listen? Because no matter how low you are feeling, Helen Love will grab you by the hands and pull you onto the dancefloor, cover you in iced gems and show you the night of your life.