KING HENRY V
Yet they do wink and yield, as love is blind and enforces.
They are then excused, my lord, when they see not what they do.
What’s the difference between “love is blind” and “beer goggles”? I suppose it’s just that with the second one you have the chance to blame the alcohol. How about the difference between “suddenly I realised that I love love” and “love falls in love with itself again, like it never should”? You could put it like this: a first romance blossoms, but then wilts as summer turns to autumn. After winter there’ll be many more springs – but the magic and innocence of the first one is lost forever. Let’s quit this silly cliché – there’s no use being nostalgic, that first time was really the worst time – now we’re stronger, we know the rules, we know it’s just a (magnificent) game. A decade in Sheffield, and we’ve broken through the lethargy and self-pity to find that, yes, dreams are all fair and good, but there’s only so much time for wallowing; life is short, time to go out and grab it.
“Love is Blind” is about growing up, finding yourself in a brave new world of self-knowledge, and as such it works perfectly as the first track on “Separations” – a fact that the band were well aware of even as they recorded it. While generally a good album act, Pulp tend to open with a slightly misfiring statement of intent, then spend the first half getting to the meat of things. This is the sole example where we’re plunged straight into the action – which here means a stomping, slavic cabaret number.
That wobbly bombom-pah-bombom-pah, later (accidentally?) recycled by Blur for ‘Sunday Sunday’, a woozy synth line, agonised wailing in the background from Jarvis, then the decisive “Oh.” From this point we’re taken on a tour of startling, but seemingly disconnected images. Was this song cobbled together from pieces of three or four different unfinished ones? If so, then it’s not exactly to its detriment. If our theme is restless creativity, then isn’t this the ultimate example? Jarvis’s vocal flips between the personal and the general, the angry and the laid-back, and musically, the track lives up to this principle too – it’s a massively populist cabaret stomp from start to finish. A few years later the group would (sort of) film a music video at the Moulin Rouge, and it seems a shame they didn’t get inside to film a performance of ‘Love is Blind’, can-can dancers and all. Then there’s Candida’s cheeky call-and-response keyboard phrase which alternates from left to right throughout. All fairly camp and excessive, but never leaving a bad taste in the mouth.
The song’s best moment is undoubtedly the spoken word section, an apocalyptic vision of taking a last chance for love while the world crumbles. Then, the next day, it’s all still there, “the spilt milk and the dog turds / in that grey ashtray morning light” – the worst has passed, nothing’s perfect but we’re all ok. That odd poetic urban realism would soon be one of the band’s greatest strengths, and this is perhaps its first outing. Just as this section is a success, the next is a bit of a letdown, an angry-sounding metaphor about someone being a “butcher” which seems redolent of all the melodramatic excesses of the era we’re leaving behind. Any grab-bag assortment will have something you’d rather leave behind, though, and we’re soon back to the gist.
An obvious first single, Love is Blind now sits firmly in the shadow of Separations’ two big breakthrough tracks. Too ‘big’ a track to be an interlude between hits, it suffered from being perhaps too ahead of its time, and was dropped from the band’s set to make way for the likes of ‘Babies’ before the album was released – a shame, perhaps, but not really – this will forever be the opening of the first modern Pulp album, and that should be enough.