Adventures of a University Finalist

Thursday, June 02, 2005

A Finalist No Longer


The Pearlfishers - The Strange Underworld of the Tall Poppies (Marina Records, 2002)

The Pearlfishers - Cherry Sky
The Pearlfishers - Sugar Mountain Babies
The Pearlfishers - Banana Sandwich
The Pearlfishers - Waiting on the Flood

My Dad, for some reason beyond me, says that the first five tracks of 'Get Born' by Jet are the best opening to an album in the past ten years or so. I love him but The Pearlfishers' 'Strange Underworld...' is one of the key examples as to why he is so wrong.
Released in 1997, the debut on Marina Records by this Scottish duo has to be the perfect summer album, along with The Pernice Brothers 'The World Won't End' and The Beach Boys' 'Sunflower' to name a few. 'Strange Underworld...' is the debut by the band with two albums and a Christmas EP released since. You can check out the whole history of the band on their website. They can tell it much better than I.
The Pearlfishers are often compared to 70s acts such as The Beach Boys, The Raspberries and Todd Rundgren (they recorded a song called 'Todd is God', a favourite of mine as I share the same sentiment) and 90s power pop acts such as the legendary Jellyfish. This is mainly derived from their chiming guitars and intelligent, sweeping arrangements. As a result, their music is overpowering in its emotional impact and never stultified by too much busyness going on in the mix. The perfect example has to be 'Waiting on the Flood' with David Scott's magnificent delivery that whenever he sings the word 'love' tears immediately spring to my eyes. Scott reminds me of Danny Wilson's Gary Clark which isn;t really surprising as both are Scottish (highly recommend people check out Clark's short side project King L whose one album was superb). 'Banana Sandwich' wants to make me skip for no apparent reason which can only be a good thing unless it springs to mind at a highly embarrasing moment. 'Cherry Sky' starts off slowly with a simple plonking organ riff until joined by a loping bass line, superb vocal harmonies and horns to create a real power pop gem. The chorus is just wonderful. 'Sugar Mountain Babies', on the other hand, is a simple acoustic number supported by delicately placed strings and charming lyrical couplets such as "we were in love in the belly of summer/warmed by the honeyed wildness of the sun". I like Teenage Fanclub and Belle and Sebastian but to think that they are so ardently loved and the Pearlfishers so roundly ignored is jaw dropping. Download all these songs and fall in love with them as I've done.
By the way, had my last exam today and am enjoying a celebratory rum and coke. Yay! Check out Dodge's recent post on Cory Branan and the song 'Skateland South' - enchanting half sketches masquerading as songs with some stunning lyrical conceits. Putting your crush's name instead of yours when you reach the high score on an arcade game is such a disarmingly romantic concept that you can't help smiling. Like I've said before, sometimes all you want is something to brighten your day and both acts do just that.

Buy - The Pearlfishers - The Strange Underworld of the Tall Poppies
Visit - The Excellent Pearlfishers' Site (song explanations and everything!)