I've always identified with indie pop in its many forms, from the most saccharine-filled twee of a Belle & Sebastian release, to the more sparse moments typified by the Young Marble Giants. Of course, I've never really known the genre very well, apart from a few seperate, possibly more mainstream artists--Belle & Sebastian, Camera Obscura, The Magnetic Fields, etc.
I feel I should be embarrassed to explain that most of the songs on this Rough Trade compilation are completely alien to me, and strangely I feel that this is largely responsible for me buying it when it first came out--with only a couple of songs in the tracklisting that I can immediately both bring to mind and give name to, I felt as if I just didn't have enough hooks into it, as if this was not something for me, an exclusive club for nostalgists and adventurers only.
I confronted myself over this earlier today, when I saw this and Post Punk compilation together for five pounds each, and decided that it was no longer a valid excuse to feel like there was some form of music completely unavailable to me--plus I really needed to pick up a copy of the Post Punk compilation, rather than stealing my flatmate's copy whenever I wanted to listen to it.
So I'm yet to listen to it all, opting to talk about it whilst listening to it for the first time, in an attempt to capture all the feelings associated with a new record--especially when listening to it is akin to breaking a taboo, the first sip of alcohol, the first date with your first girlfriend.
The shame is that the first track, "All Fall Down", seems to be there more as a curiosity: Look! Look at the sappiness of Primal Scream before they became all macho and told us to "Kill All Hippies" and "Shoot Speed/Kill Light"! It's this association of the context that prevents any reasonable attempt at critical evaluation of the song on its own merits, and I'm dubious also of the rationale behind including on the compilation, other than to provoke a reaction from a listener almost inevitably more familiar with the dancefloor-synth of contemporary 'Scream.
Thankfully the next few tracks prove again that the Rough Trade compilations are a fantastic point of reference for each genre they represent--guitars jangle, the treble sparkles, and I find myself genuinely excited by the possibilities that are presented by each songs, depsite knowing both that this is the past, and that these possibilities have already been exploited--something remains, whether that's due to my subconcious picking up of something in these songs that hasn't been repeated since, or that this is a collection of genuinely brilliant songs--and as such they transcend the genre to the extent that it is largely impossible not to become excited by them--is the subject of some other essay.
Particularly strong in this collection of the initial few songs is The Popguns' "Waiting for the Winter", which took me slightly by surprise, given that I expected this compilation to consist mostly of the weak-spined tweeness that I'm mostly familiar with from the indie pop I already own or at least know. The brilliance of this song comes from the ferocity and energy achieved overall, when analysis of the song's individual components reveals nothing over the top or pile-driving in its approach--a song that truly is the sum of its parts.
(I've gone much more in depth on this than I imagined I would, I'll make an effort to continue this in the future).