Sunday, June 29, 2008

Saturday's Kids / Kill Me, I'm Twee

"I will like bands because I'm told to / Cut off my hands, because I'm told to"

So Euro 2008 is (wrongly) over, and I'm afraid that means we're back for a few days. During those halcyon three weeks, it's fair to say that Turkey made a very convincing stab at overtaking France as in love with these times, in spite of these times's favourite international football team - we'll let you know where that goes.

Olders might recall the era when football and Saturday afternoons were synonymous: we guess they still are for real football, which covers 99% of the sport by volume, if only 1% by over-fevered, ill-thought out media coverage. But youngers would probably have to be sat down as it was patiently explained to them why the UK's best football publication has the now quaint title of "When Saturday Comes". Which choice of name was itself a knowing nod to one of the Undertones' less spectacular numbers (remember how the post-punk fanzine explosion fed through to the football fanzine upturn, as well as the indiepop fanzines we all spent the mid80s poring over). The song, in turn, is 1,000,000 (approx) times better than the execrable film of the same name, although at least that gave us the celluloid novelty of Sheffield United at the pinnacle of high sporting theatre. Anyway, this rumination is all prompted by the arrival of the Pains of Being Pure of Heart's "Come Saturday", their new single (split with new Australian sensations the Summer Cats) on Slumberland's Searching For The Now series). Which, um, has nothing whatsoever to do with football, the Undertones, or Sean Bean.

However unoriginal an observation this is, it would be dishonest not to say that the Pains of Being are still ringers for early MBV (post-terrible goth stomp, pre-"You Made Me Realise"). So if you're expecting any kind of departure from the songs that lit up last year's overlapping EPs, or their split single on Atomic Beat with the Parallelograms, you'll be firmly knocked back. But, as ever, the band manage to combine this sublime one-track fizzy guitar grogginess with lyrics that are more uplifting, deliberate and inspirational than they're often given credit for: "Come Saturday" positively rattles with the same conviction that saw them shake the foundations at the Betsey Trotwood and the Buffalo Bars (they were, we felt, especially amazing at the latter).

Also part of Slumberland's quest for the present is a double-sider from Another Sunny Day In Glasgow and Electrophonvintage splinter duo the Sunny Street. The former is a left-field take on the Pastels' "Sometimes I Think About You", but it can never really get past the fact that the original was immaculately sweet and coy, and no amount of musical discombobulation is going to surpass it. But the Sunny Street's unassuming "Pottery & Glass" is a a chiming girl-sung treat, reeking of easy melody. Plus, they have an imminent CD-r single coming out on Cloudberry, the preview track from which, "College", shimmers with low-key jangly splendour.

And we should also mention here Sarandon's "Kill Twee Pop!" album, also on Slumberland, even if it's been out long enough for many of you to have grabbed already. For Sarandon are simply one of the best British bands out there at the moment, both live and on record, and this their debut album proper (after the 28-track "Completist's Library" whetted appetites) merely proves it, both including and building on the finery of last year's "Joe's Record" 45 as they move towards (marginally) longer, but still infinitely spiky and sprightly, numbers. It's hard to describe their sound without (a) confirming that it ain't twee pop, and (b) reeling off a list of names of our favourite 80s awkward squad bands plus perhaps 90s' outsiders like the Yummy Fur and second-phase Beatnik Filmstars, so we'll restrict ourselves to saying that if you liked any one or more of the bands on the superb "Commercially Unfriendly" compilation, this will probably be one of the most exciting records you trip across this year.