Sound — 9
By 1985, The Cult had yet to hit the big time. Their first album "Dreamtime" was not a big success, but that fact did not change the musical direction of Ian Astbury, Billy Duffy & company. "Love" is essentially a refined version of their debut, with only slightly less gothic compositions and more arena-ready production. The album's main focus is the guitarwork: Duffy's ringing guitar lines are shimmering, and his occasional solos are almost perfectly produced. His riff on "She Sells Sanctuary", enhanced by a plethora of effects, has gone on to become legendary.
Lyrics — 6
I doubt that anyone has been drawn towards The Cult because of the lyrics. They're mostly decent, sure, but they're often way too pretentious and Astbury doesn't really have the depth to write beautiful poetry about things like the afterlife ("Nirvana") and Indians ("Brother Wolf Sister Moon"). However, when he settles for nonsensical rock lyrics about sex or just sentences that sound cool, like "Rain", "Hollow Man" and "Love", he does the job well enough. As a singer, Astbury leaves something to be desired. He basically sounds like a less controlled Jim Morrison, but that's okay: Since when was rock n' roll about having the most angelic voice in the boy choir?
Overall Impression — 8
"Love" was released in a time when alternative rock was starting to evolve quite rapidly, and it contributed to that movement with its distinct guitars. If you're a guitarist working in the realm between hard rock and alternative/gothic rock, you MUST listen to this and learn from Billy Duffy. Aside from his consistently awesome riffing, his solos will just blow you away; "The Phoenix" is just several pummeling minutes of absolute wah-wah catharsis. "Brother Wolf Sister Moon", "Hollow Man" and The Cult's most significant hit "She Sells Sanctuary" are other songs you have to hear. Not all of the songs are that great, though, and 2-3 songs tend to drag the album down a bit. But if gothic rock with a big, lofty production and semi-acoustic guitars from heaven is your thing, then you should definitely check this out.