Is there such a thing as a ‘Peel ethic’ where certain bands are concerned? I’m talking about the bands who shone brightly for a while, knocked out a few singles, maybe an album, and defined their sound in a Peel session, then were heard of no more. John once said that some groups in the punk era split up after their sessions recording, as they had made their statement, said what they had to say, and he applauded that attitude.
If so, I vote the Sundays as a prime example of a talent that never outstayed its welcome. Their calling card was Harriet Wheeler’s languid, dreamy tones, redolent of dying summer and nostalgia for a country that failed to keep its promises.
With our lyrics, with our music, we tend to operate on that level: if things feel right, then that’ll be good enough for us. It doesn’t always have to have a solid intellectual reason why you choose a word or a song or whatever. I think that’s how we look at music in general. People are going to listen to it and they’re going to respond to it. There’s a lot of confusion around: there seems to be a vaguely inhuman way of getting through the day. [David Gavurin]
One Peel session, three albums, and that’s all she wrote. Their best-known track was never even available as a single in their home country: Here’s Where The Story Ends (FF 1990 #36) was heavily played by FM Radio in the States, and featured David Gavurin’s jangly guitar to stunning effect.
Reading Writing And Arithmetic had taken over a year to record, and was a substantial hit for label Rough Trade, but in retrospect can be seen as a watercolour sunset in the face of grunge’s oncoming aural assault. Their first single, Can’t Be Sure (FF 1989 #1 and All-Time 2000 #47) drifts in and out of an afternoon reverie of regret: it just failed to reach the UK Top 40. Rough Trade’s demise forced the band to sign for Parlophone, and take even more time recording Blind, which, while it had its moments, lacked the emotional drive of the debut. Wheeler and Gavurin’s longing for domestic bliss ensured that Static And Silence would be a long time coming. Since then, the band have been on ‘indefinite hiatus’ (a stock phrase to ensure that they can make a comeback when the bills need paying).