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Hothouse Flowers - Into Your Heart


Review: Jack Foley

INTO Your Heart marks the first studio album from the Hothouse Flowers in seven years but, sadly, the wait does not appear to have been worth it.

Symptomatic of easy listening/soul at its blandest, this is the type of album which begins brightly (in the form of first single, Your Love Goes On), but then becomes a mundane series of heartfelt songs, which sound far too earnest and joyfree for their own good.

Boasting the type of collection that would easily make the playlist of Radio 2 (for mothers only), the album is a long, drawn out affair, which seriously begins to flag about midway through.

Tracks such as Santa Monica, which comes with descriptions such as. 'Fiachna was riding on Santa Monica Big Blue Bus from the beach back to central Los Angeles on a pensive, sad Summer's day, and put pen to paper and out came this little snapshot', aptly sum up the feel of the album.

Very serious, mostly melancholy, and insanely dull. You don't tend to think of places such as Santa Monica as being sad, but Liam Ó Maonlaí and co make it so.

The lyrics don't help, with lines such as 'worn out faces from God's special places, working their lives to the bone', (during Santa Monica), or 'Satisfaction, thinking of you, it's my reaction, thinking of you, up on an airplane, I take to the sky, see you later, this isn't goodbye', from the hopelessly flat Hallelujah.

On the plus side, Ó Maonlaí's soaring vocals make the album easy to listen to (they don't grate in any way), while the varied use of instruments, from hammond organs, stings and pianos, to tin whistles and flugelhorns, occasionally add an extra dimension.

But there is an air of artistic pretentiousness which also permeates, making it all the more difficult to like.

Peace Tonight, for instance, is a distinctly average track, which lays claim to the band's boast that 'Fiachna was sitting in his bedroom, fighting writer's block... he shook it off and wrote this in ten minutes... man oh man God is good... a few weeks later Liam sang it in a voice never heard before'.

The only time the album really finds its stride is during tracks such as the aforementioned single, Your Love Goes On, which features the Dublin Gospel Choir to lend it a bit of soul, and during the Van Morrison inspired Magic Bracelets.

Yet it is ironic that the best track on the album comes last - a live version of So Do Mhamo I, during which the band really lets go of its earnest values and has a really good old Irish craic.

Sadly, by this time, you will probably have abandoned it.

Track listing:
1. Your Love Goes On
2. The End Of The Road
3. Hallelujah
4. Tell Me
5. Better Man
6. Peace Tonight
7. Santa Monica
8. Feel Like Living
9. Baby I Got You
10. Alright
11. Magic Bracelets
12. Out Of Nowhere
13. So Do Mhamo I

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