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The Sundays

Imagine a COCTEAU TWINS-like outfit that one could actually make out the lyrics(!), then The SUNDAYS would fit the bill. Spearheaded by the dainty and delectable Harriet Wheeler, the pity was they were only around for several years, but for the most part their time was incise and integral to the switch from shoegaze to Britpop – although one er… can’t be sure.
Formed in London, in 1988, when sultry singer Harriet and co-songsmith guitarist David Gavurin met while at Bristol University (one can only guess what day it was), The SUNDAYS lured in bassist Paul Brindley and drum machine replacement Patrick “Patch” Hannan. Wheeler – raised in Sonning Common, near Henley-on-Thames – was the only member with a modicum of band experience, having sung with embryonic JIM JIMINEE incarnation Cruel Shoes (c. 1986); Patrick’s brother Nick Hannan also played with that outfit.
Subsequently signing to Rough Trade Records, The SUNDAYS’ fawning music press hype was justified with the release of the semi-classic (and Festive-Fifty-No.1-to-be), `Can’t Be Sure’, early in ‘89. A luscious slice of sugary dream-pop, the track’s reverberating guitar and fragile, bone-china vocals, brought comparisons with aforesaid “shoegazing” forebears COCTEAU TWINS; some critics also citing THROWING MUSES.
Yet The SUNDAYS were in seemingly little hurry to follow-up this indie chart-topper (and minor Top 50 hit); a full year passing before the release of much-anticipated debut parent album, READING, WRITING AND ARITHMETIC (1990) {*8}. Its glistening SMITHS-styled jangle-pop didn’t disappoint, and The SUNDAYS suddenly found themselves in the Top 5 (US Top 40), and under the glare of the world’s media. Surely a song scheduled for a single release, `Here’s Where The Story Ends’ was the star track and Peel fave, while `I Won’ (also a free flexi given away by The Catalogue fanzine), plus `You’re Not The Only One I Know’ and `My Finest Hour’, jangled their way into the hearts and minds of indie fans nationwide.
An ensuing continent-straddling tour, together with the collapse of the band’s label, conspired to slow down The SUNDAYS already notoriously relaxed attitude to songwriting, and it was late ‘92 before they re-emerged via a new Parlophone Records deal (D.G.C./Geffen stuck by them Stateside). The resulting Top 30 single, `Goodbye’, displayed a more world-weary folk-rock sound (Harriet and Co even covering The ROLLING STONES’ mournful classic `Wild Horses’ on its B-side), whilst the accompanying album, BLIND {*6}, sounded frayed at the edges. While the record’s modest chart placing and the success of the attendant tour suggested that The SUNDAYS’ fans hadn’t lost interest, their patience would be tested with a subsequent five-year gap prior to a third album, caused by the marriage of Harriet and David and the birth of their daughter, Billie. In the meantime, in 1993, observant music buffs would notice an instrumental, `Another Flavour’ (the theme tune to the Newman and Baddiel in Pieces sketch show), was indeed The SUNDAYS.
When 1997’s STATIC & SILENCE {*6} finally arrived, critics found fault with what they saw as musical stagnation, although once again loyal fans helped put it in to the Top 10 (US Top 40), proving their enduring appeal. Squeezed either side of the set was hit singles `Summertime’ (#15) and `Cry’ (#43), whilst `Folk Song’ quoted hero VAN MORRISON’s `And It Stoned Me’. The SUNDAYS duly chose to go on a lengthy hiatus in order to raise their two children, but in 2014, hints were that Harriet, David and Co might reconvene as a group some time in the very near future.
© MC Strong 1994-2004/GRD // rev-up MCS Aug2016

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