Sea Urchins - Stardust
Cutting their teeth as teens in a West Bromwich bedroom, The Sea Urchins were nothing like the heavy metal that seemed to fill every bar in the UK Black Country. Fringe haircuts, perfect trousers, suede jackets and infectious tambourines gave plenty of hints as to their youthful ambition, but nothing could fully prepare you for just how utterly spellbinding these songs would be. Compiling their fanzine-only flexi material with the full complement of singles for Sarah Records, Stardust runs chronologically from late 1986 to the middle of 1989, beginning with the singles split for Clare Wadd’s Kvatch and Matt Haynes’ Sha La La, before hitting the first of what would be an even hundred releases from the new label Wadd and Haynes would form - Sarah. The song that launched a legendary label and defined a sound, a scene, a place and time; “Pristine Christine” still rings out as immediate and magical today as it did on first listen. What a glorious jangly rush racing around the corners of pop’s history! The band would reach such heights time and again over the course of this three year burst. The melancholy swinging folk of “Everglade” and it’s wonderfully yearning vocal; the organ-fueled british invasion garage rock sing-a-long of “Solace”; the playful psych pop of “A Morning Odyssey”; the acoustic sweep of “Wild Grass Pictures”; the perfectly named “Summershine” leaving you with a ramshackle smile out on the dancefloor. All of it is just so filled with delicate humanity, yet somehow absolutely perfect. As Bob Stanley said about the shimmering ballad “Please Rain Fall” while bestowing it with NME Single Of The Week (an honor also bestowed upon “Pristine Christine”), “think of some variations on the word marvelous and you’re most of the way there.” In their time, they might have seemed wildly out of step, but it’s not crazy to say that things could have been very different for the likes of Radiohead, The La’s, and Oasis without The Sea Urchins.