Monday 29 October 2012

The Sugargliders - A Nest With A View 1990-1994

Album review by KevW

During the first half of the 1990s when cult Australians The Sugargliders were active, I was entering my teens and beginning to explore beyond the reaches of daytime radio fodder, seeking out collage-rock and grunge from the US as well as delving into the British indie scene that would soon, for better or worse, develop into Britpop. Evening radio schedules became essential; Steve Lamacq followed by John Peel followed by Mark Radcliffe became an important routine and a route to discovering weird and wonderful emerging sounds that you wouldn't normally hear. Indiepop was a big part of it, yet somehow the handful of singles and solitary album from the brothers Meadows and co. managed to pass me by, and despite two more decades of trawling music's hidden corners and forgotten scenes, this welcome retrospective is acting as my personal introduction to the band.

So how to judge it? As a museum piece? As a flashback to a bygone era? Or approach it the same way you would with any new album? Surely the latter is the most sensible, fair and objective way. After all, it's not as though they instigated a scene and left a legacy that still reverberates through modern music today. They had an individual sound for sure, but one that belonged to a chain of guitar-pop bands that existed for years before them and bands that are creating similar sounds to this day. What is overwhelmingly apparent is the timelessness of these songs; they don't sound dated one tiny little bit. If you knew no better you'd have no reason to believe this wasn't a brand new, fresh-faced group setting out on their mission to craft some decent pop music. Another point that should be made is just how consistent they were, even on this extensive 20 track compilation there are no weak links.

Most of the originally released music is here, from lovably stripped-down jangle of debut single 'Sway' through to the ever so slightly more experimental swansong of 'Top 40 Sculpture'. Perhaps the most telling point to be made about 'A Nest With A View' is that although extensive it doesn't feel overlong. The sunshine-pop begins with the excellent 'Ahprahran' and it doesn't set until the very end. They successfully flirt with some bigger beats on 'Reinventing Penicillin' and the slightly twee 'Give Me Some Confidence' is another highlight on a record with many. It's the simplistic innocence and delicious melodies that make The Sugargliders sound so moreish. It feels like a shame that they passed me by when they were a going concern, but this near impeccable compilation goes a long way to making up for the missed opportunity. If you're a long-time fan then enjoy the memories, but if you're a fellow newcomer then make sure you don't let these gorgeous tunes pass you by.

The Sugargliders' website

Buy the album

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