#30: The Boo Radleys – Spaniard (1992)
From a clutch of bands for whom the arrival of the mid-nineties prompted a re-evaluation, an alignment towards indie musak vogue then prevalent. The formulaic Britpop swagger; cheeky verse then the upbeat chorus, songs that flaunted a scope both homogenized and stapled to shallow commercialisation. This wasn’t the only option on the musical menu, but my, it was a depressing era, defined by a ubiquitous anthemic mindset far too dull for my palate. Scatter-gun criticism of the Britpop oeuvre (I initially mistyped that as Britpoop, which is apt) is something that arrives easily on this blog, fully formed sentiment aimed indiscriminately towards the type of band that bothered the lower reaches of the singles chart, or frequented certain Camden Town drinking haunts, or whose tunes followed us about like miasma. And whilst you could put up a convincing argument that such broad canvas mud-flinging is perhaps unfair in a world where musicians need to eat and the coke habits of record company bosses requires funding, my topmost ire is reserved for two bandwagoneering acts whose pre-Britpop material is some of the most elegant / attractive / alluring music recorded in the early nineties.
Of the two bands in question, I’ll be featuring Lush at a future juncture; for below the words: The Boo Radleys. This track is so much more than flamenco stylings appended to a shoegaze template – just as this band are so much more than the lowest common denominator / radio-friendly chart fodder that shifted units at the expense of reputation. Albums one through three exhibit extraordinary levels of balance and poise for a guitar-orientated band, an indie agenda constantly supplanted by an exploitation of ideas, of extrapolating beyond the lush confidence of the jangly. This particular track is the opening salvo from second album Everything’s Alright Forever, for my money the band’s most thematically consistent album, resplendent in subtle textures. There’s such a ghostly presence to all of this; I love the girl laughing in the intro, the trumpet arrangement that’s perfectly pitched, the measured application of effects pedal, the sense of ingrained wonderment that defines the song’s dynamic. This is the type of record that doesn’t blithely demand attention or announce itself with bells and whistles – rather it slyly creeps up upon the listener; that coy embrace, a deceptively dense sound that rewards repeating listens. Or to put it another way: this is simply lovely.
The Boo Radleys / Spaniard