The House Of Love: S/T (1988)

Not to be confused with the band's similarly eponymous second album, House of Love, the self-titled debut from London's House of Love was an early entry into the UK's emerging shoegaze sound; though listening to it today, it sounds far more like a refreshing update to the '80s British new wave vibe of bands like Echo & the Bunnymen and Simple Minds than the heavily-distorted psychedelia of bands like My Bloody Valentine or Ride.

I picked this up when it came out largely on the strength of "Christine," one of the greatest singles of the late '80s, probably the most shoegazy thing on the album; it leads off the album with a perfect pop hook beneath a swath of distortion, a relentlessly catchy throwback to early Jesus and Mary Chain.  Alas, nothing else on the album is quite as instantly winning (and, indeed, while the band would issue decent albums over the years, I never heard anything from them quite as magical as this, though "I Don't Know Why I Love You" on the follow-up came close); still, there are several other tunes here that still hold up well.

"Sulphur" has a boomy, Echo-like anthemic rock vibe and some nice "Street Fighting Man" guitar jabs; stand-out track "Salome" is bouncy, an upbeat mid-point between the forward-looking buzz of "Christine" and the new wave past; "Love In A Car" leans to the goth side with some moody atmospherics; and "Happy" seems to hint at the Stones' psychedelia circa "We Love You."

Subsequent reissues and compilations append a bunch of singles and b-sides, some of which are pretty decent, making the overall package particularly attractive.

Here's the "Christine" video:
Here's a live version of "Sulphur" from a few years back:
Here's the video for "Shine On" (a contemporaneous single not on the original album):