Close Lobsters – Forever, Until Victory! The Singles Collection

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist (part 3)

So, I was reviewing the first Close Lobsters album and I liked it so much I decided to order the second one. Which I also liked – though it is a more difficult listen – so then I decided to order this singles collection. My decision-making is not always great. Not even close. But I feel like I made the right choices this time. There is a post-reunion album that I almost certainly will pick up, too.

What I Think of This Album

If you are a Close Lobsters fan (which you should be), this compilation is indispensable. It gathers all the band’s singles and EP tracks from 1986 to 1989 (except for one B-side and a single issued on a label other than Fire). Almost none of these 19 songs was included on either original studio album, so if you squint hard enough, this is almost a double-album of material that could have been a third studio release. Right?

Much of this sounds more like the songs of Foxheads Stalk This Land than it does the darker songs of Headache Rhetoric, but there is a fair amount of diversity in any event.

Debut single “Going to Heaven to See If It Rains” flowers in full jangly/psychedelic glory with a great sing-speak vocal that plays off the music brilliantly. Someone (as on so many releases, the liner notes here avoid all critical information) sings a very pretty harmony on “Never Seen Before,” on which Andrew Burnett unleashes some Morrissey-esque yelps and trills, but is most notable for the cool drum pattern. The Wedding Present covered “Let’s Make Some Plans,” and it’s easy to hear how the guitar sounds attracted that band, though the original is far more delicate and pristine.

Much more aggressive is “Nature Thing,” proving that there was more than jangle to these lads. I can’t believe “Skyscrapers of St. Mirin” (what a title) was relegated to a B-side; this is a pounding tune with a thick bass, perfectly placed frenetic strumming, and a winning melody. The masterful “From This Day On” is an absolute pleasure, with a rubbery bass line and a FANTASTIC instrumental interlude. The gentle “Don’t Worry” reminds me a bit of the Go-Betweens (always a good thing), though with a solo those Aussies would never have attempted.

Fitful “Firestation Towers” is the song that was included on the seminal C86 compilation tape – though this is the rerecorded version. Also in alternate form is “Pimps,” which appeared on the debut (along with the kaleidoscopic “In Spite of These Times”). The gem that is “Boys and Girls” ends way too soon; the deceptively bouncy bass line that dominates the song is by itself better than most bands’ entire catalogues. Listening to “Pathetik Trivia” is like sliding down a rainbow made of guitar strings.

Is it weird to sequence the three covers in a row? I’m not sure. I don’t hate it. The jangly, caffeinated version of “Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)” neatly substitutes Nikki Sudden for Johnny Rotten, and the band does right by Leonard Cohen on a mellifluous rendering of “Paperthin Hotel.” They go super-obscure with a cover of “Wide Waterways” – a song by England’s Glory, the band Peter Perrett was in before the Only Ones. None of England’s Glory’s music (dating from 1973 or so) was officially released until 1989. Research indicates that the track was originally titled “The Wide Waterway.”

The Best Thing About This Album

Maybe “From This Day On,” but I could probably draw a song title out of a hat and agree with it.

Release Date

2009

The Cover Art

Excellent. The monochrome aesthetic always pleases me. The women with the drawn-on Dali facial hair and the berets are playfully seductive. The pointilist/Lichtenstein style is also a favorite of mine, and the different colors for the album title works exceptionally well.

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