The Boo Radleys – Everything’s Alright Forever

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist (part 1)

I’m pretty sure this was the first shoegaze album I ever owned. And it’s definitely my favorite Boo Radleys album. Their debut, Ichabod and I, I have to admit, I’ve never bothered to seek out. Giant Steps, their third is their artistic breakthrough, and their fourth, Wake Up! was a popular hit in Great Britain, whereas the follow-up, C’mon Kids, was a harsh left turn. Their last, Kingsize, like their first, has gone unheard by these ears. C’mon Kids was, in fact, a bit extreme and Wake Up! was too light-weight (though both are not bad albums by any means), and while Giant Steps is unquestionably more sophisticated and impressive than Everything’s Alright Forever, my heart remains with this second album. Also, props to the band for choosing an excellent name (even though folks at their record company derided them as “the Do Badleys”).

What I Think of This Album

This starts out unassuming enough, with acoustic strumming, some Spanish guitar work, and hushed vocals. And even when the horns come in, this still seems like a modest affair, though you can tell there is the potential for more. Things get more traditionally shoegazey on the “Towards the Light,” but with a healthy dose of Jesus and Mary Chain noise. There are mysterious Velvets-like sounds on “Losing It (Song for Abigail)” and then all hell breaks loose, but in a pretty way, with an obvious but not unmanageable debt to My Bloody Valentine. The awkwardly titled “Memory Babe” is sort of the quintessential early Boo Radleys song:  dense, layered, a little experimental but pop at its core, striking just the right balance between noise and melody.

From there on in, the band explores variations of that sound (almost all songs composed by guitarist Martin Carr), whether it’s the acoustic-based “Skyscraper” (which eventually incorporates distortion and some slightly ahead of its time Britpop riffing; Noel Gallagher definitely listened to this song a lot); schizophrenic “I Feel Nothing,” shifting from a light shuffle to a rocket ship of guitar noise and back and back again; standout “Does This Hurt?”, with a propulsive beat, guitars just piled on until they reach the moon, and vocalist Sice’s best singing on the album; short and delicate “Sparrow;” pedalboard workout “Firesky” (yes, it sounds pretty much like you think it would), with another great vocal melody; the cinematic “Song for the Morning to Sing”; and fizzy “Lazy Day.”

Producer Ed Buller (London Suede, Pulp, the Primitives) deserves a lot of credit for striking the right balance between all the competing sounds here. Fyi, Buller played keyboards on the Psychedelic Furs’ Mirror Moves and Midnight to Midnight.

The Best Thing About This Album

“Does This Hurt?”

Release Date

March, 1992

The Cover Art

This doesn’t do it for me, but I also don’t hate it. I think of it as a cross between a Picasso sketch and a stained glass window, and I actually think it well-represents the sounds of the album; I just don’t really like looking at it.

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