Helen Love – This Is My World

Even those of us lucky enough to spend some of our time being creative, can slip into recycling ideas that work. Especially when we have 'real' jobs as well. I know that I, for one, am guilty of reusing poster designs, repeating gig line ups and regularly rehashing flexi things.

While thinking about this review, I've made time to listen to Helen Love's back catalogue, one that spans nearly 30 years and certainly could not be accused of being predictable. Every record packed with killer tunes, lyrical punches and feisty spot on attitude. All thriller, no filler.

However, This Is My World is something slightly different.

The buzzsaw Kay guitars are turned down, the 'hey hos' are rationed, the pop culture lyrics are quarantined and the infectious bubblegum splat of the songs is rebooted into something more serious, sober, and personal. Sparkling spangly sonic glitter replaced by the sombre Swansea sea foam green of the vinyl.

Instead we have something far more personal, more striking and, dare I say it, more powerful. Certainly very wonderful.

Opener 'My Seaside Town' sets the mood for the album. Wistful, almost downbeat lyrics, a feeling of isolation and alienation from the mainstream, and fear for the futures of those marooned in a town in a decline, in danger of being bulldozed into Johnson's Brave New World nightmare.

Guitar riffs have grown into wreaths of a myriad memorable melodies, which hum up and down your brain like the ghost of the Mumbles tram patrolling the sea front. Then there's the minor melancholic tugs, the impossibly deep emotional arrangements, the evocative echoes of epic albums past: there's even some acoustic guitar! Despite being recorded during last year's lockdown, the feel of the whole thing is sumptuous, level upon level of textures, melodies and hooks. Nostalgic brass, summoning bells, significant strings, massive tunes. The Pet Shop Boys schmoozing to The Ramones' Baby I Love You at the Top Rank.


All this gives space for the intensely moving lyrics to take centre stage. And what incredible lyrics they are. The heartstorm of single 'This is My World' brilliantly encapsulates the poetic feel of the album; a celebration of everyday lives, longings and dreams, coupled with a sorrow of youth fled, loves lost, towns decayed and disappointments so keenly felt. Surely there will barely be a dry eye while listening to the unbearably poignant 'Clearing Out Mum's House', a track which hammers on the heart so accurately it hurts.

The sleeve proudly carries a Coal Not Dole sticker and it's clear that the legacy of defeat in the great miners strike is still a heavy burden to bear. The aftermath is not just ghost towns, unemployment and the transformation of many prosperous areas into little more than theme parks, but just as destructively, a debilitating mood of despair and despondency infecting generations. How can we ever get over a loss so devastating?

And yet, despite itself, this record does not go gentle. It celebrates ordinary people, the kids on their Go Karts, those herded to the margins by new developments, the mix of NUM fighters, lovers, karaoke queens and one night wasters at the social club, lovers having a 'Quite Good Time', and of course Billy Liar.

“This small town we live in by the sea
It might hold you so tight you will never leave.”

Speaking as another who couldn't escape the graveyard cwtches of Swansea, returning here after a 35 year absence, I've found it to be a far more vibrant, diverse and exciting place than I left. And Helen Love reflects this change.

Yes, some of the songs may appear despondent, doubting that anything can alter for the better, that small clapped out seaside towns are stuck in a rut of small mindedness for ever, that decay is terminal and that golden days might never call again. But this album is proof of the opposite. Something beautiful, invaluable and wonderful created here in Swansea from the jaws of disillusion.


It celebrates our families, our histories, our communities, our art.

This is our world.

Together we can make a difference.

When I received a copy of this album, my mouth literally feel open with surprise and delight. Since playing it, it's been metaphorically open ever since.

Helen Love is an icon, an inspiration, a one of a kind call to arms to those from small towns but with big ideas and big hearts.

It maybe January, but let the sunshine in.

Hey ho, let's go!

Rosey R*E*P*E*A*T

Exclusive interview with Helen Love here

This is My World is available from January 28th direct from Alcopop here and in good record stores nationwide