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Wednesday, May 05, 2004

yes, the sundays. you know, that band. i heard their first album for the first time in the dying embers of a lost weekend (actually lasting from wednesday - friday) in somerset a few years ago. i loved it instantly. and i finally got around to buying it recently, after months of idly intending to do so. i've also read quite a bit about it on ILM etc, lots of people seem to think it is the best indie pop album ever, including people who actually don't like much indie!

anyway i listened to it a couple of times and didn't really get into it, it sounded like, well, early 90s indie pretty much, i couldn't access whatever it was that had made it sound so special that first time (hint: DRUGS). i was aware that something was lacking in me because clearly i was capable of enjoying this record immensely. it just wasn't happening. anyway, last saturday i got stoned.

i don't do that much anymore! i get so paranoid and nervous. also smoking even one spliff makes the next day so much worse than if i'd got mildly pissed the night before. but i was at a party, came home, fairly blitzed, and went to bed listening to THE SUNDAYS. OMG OMG OMG.

admittedly i only got to about track 3 before passing out, but it doesn't matter, it was all over for me by about 1.30 into 'skin & bones.' no-one told me they were a psychedelic rock band! those guitars! seriously, on the chorus, when there are several things going on, a sort of bed of feedback under the whole song, and guitars sparking and chiming in about 5 different directions at once, i was seeing waterfalls of vivid colour, bright pink and green. this was a revelation not only because it was so beautiful, but because in my mind the sundays were a very dark blue, black and white band. the artwork, the smalltown english image, you know. i had no idea there were these cosmic fireworks involved too. and of course, i was stoned, and this kind of thing is much more liable to seem present in that state, and seem silly in the morning. but i've checked several times since in the cold light of day, and the fireworks and waterfalls are still there.

then the second song starts and the leap in mood and tone astonished me. the way the guitars suddenly flutter in out of nowhere (very 'william, it was really nothing;' more on the smiths later) and the pace being so brisk, and the melody having such momentum (you can feel the chorus ages before it comes), brought me hurtling down to earth with a pleasurable bump. i was closer to the real world now, the colours were closer to the blues and greys i expected. it was really just that sudden shift that startled me, and helped me start to love the album, because i was able to see between it a bit more, to feel its different skins of sound and atmosphere. when i'd been struggling with it, an unarticulated objection inside me had been that 'it all sounds exactly the same, it's so grey, so dull.' this was clearly, obviously not true, and i was happy to (re)discover it.

i've still only listened to it all the way through a handful of times. i will spend more time with it. i think 'i won' and 'a certain someone' are remarkable. the latter - that groove is so hard! for a schmindie band! it sounds like !!! 'me and giuliani..,' no honestly it does! i can't get my head round the thatcherite lyrics though - are they supposed to be ironic? and the last 2 tracks are great too.

i realised a couple of things about the band listening to them that night. first, they were fucking cool. i mean, they were not the smalltown losers pouting on the sidelines, there is no way they could have been with attitude like that, there is so much heart and sex and fire in the music, they knew their shit and they weren't apologetic in the slightest. i think i would have been intimidated by them. second, harriet wheeler must be the pinnacle of unattainable indie girl beauty. i don't know what she looks like. but she would have scared the shit out of me too. third, the sundays sound a bit like the smiths, but not as much as i thought they did. there are moments where the soundalike is clear. but even in johnny marr's most psyched-up moments i don't think he produced something so delicately, beguilingly trippy as 'skin & bones.' and there is a blissed-out, post-comedown awareness of dance in the music (i think) that i don't think the smiths every really accommodated.

these are just some initial thoughts on me and the sundays and our troubled history. i think we're through the worst of it, though, and should be OK in the long-run. phew! 
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