How does a band become a “favourite?” Some acts are found and then loved via recommendations from press, blogs, radio or friends. Some have an extensive back catalogue ready to be devoured and devoted to. Others quietly creep up behind and sucker punch you with a single song leaving you stunned and gasping for more. Adorable was one of those bands; the punch was “Homeboy,” the time New Year’s Eve 1994 and the place Brisbane indie nightclub Higher Than the Sun. It was the first of the club’s inaugural top fifty countdowns where patrons voted for their favourite tracks. I have no memory of what else made 1994’s list, although it’s probably safe to say that the likes of Ride, Suede, The Charlatans and Blur were aired, but it was “Homeboy” which took the top slot. Little did I know that Adorable, my new favourite band, had already ceased to exist. Still for those four and half minutes I was blissfully ignorant bopping up and down, bathed in a sea of distortion.
Three years previously Coventry’s The Candy Thieves had changed their name and guitarist and morphed into Adorable. Adorable made great pains to distance themselves from the nascent shoegaze scene instead declaring a fondness for 80’s bands such as Echo and the Bunnymen, The Psychedlic Furs and The Jesus and Mary Chain.1 Unfortunately this excluded them from being pigeonholed as part of the other scene at the time, the ’70s love fest known as new glam. Coupled with their arrogant “we’re the best band ever” boastings led to the press ignoring them after an initial couple of interviews. But back in ’92 a little bit of hype and positive word-of-mouth due to their live abilities saw them sign to Creation records and release two well received singles.2 A bold, confident debut album Against Perfection followed in 1993, originally titled Against Creation, along with tours of Europe, Japan, Australia and the US. It was in the States where, courtesy of Alan McGee’s quest to keep Creation afloat by dodgy licensing deals, that Against Perfection was released by SBK.3 A division of EMI, SBK was home to Jesus Jones, Vanilla Ice, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles — not exactly like minded peers.
With egos bruised and tensions between band members mounting, a second album, Fake, was recorded and released in 1994. The mood was introspective, the lyrics bitter, with overt anti-press sentiments, case in point “Kangaroo Court” — “Every single word I’ve said/Has been written down and then misread”. If the NME et al had given them short thrift before Fake cemented their antipathy towards the band.4 Crucially too, their one and only supporter at Creation, Alan McGee, was AWOL suffering a nervous breakdown. When Sony bought a majority stake in the label Adorable, along with several other under-performers, were dropped and the band disbanded swiftly after.5
Now, some fourteen years since Adorable bid adeiu in Brussels6 comes this compilation. As you’d expect all the A-sides from their seven singles are included: the brilliant lesson in soft/loud song dynamics that is “Sunshine Smile”, for many including the UK charts, this is where they peaked. The bouncy “I’ll Be Your Saint”, “Homeboy’s” bass heavy tale of obsession, the spiky, urgent “Sistine Chapel Ceiling”7 and the punk-ish, prophetic “Favourite Fallen Idol”. Fake only produced two singles: the muddy, angry misstep of “Kangaroo Court” and the far superior “Vendetta”, a revenge tale with a chord sequence to die for. Also noted are the two “Sunshine Smile” b-sides “Sunburnt,” and singer Piotr Fijalkowski’s most personal song “A to Fade In.”8 “I’ll Be Your Saint’s” B-side “Summerside”, a chilling ballad, rightfully earns a place alongside its flipside.
Non single-wise Against Perfection is served by the, well, rather glorious, “Glorious”, the epic “Crash Site” and the more subdued “Cut #2”. The heart-on-sleeve lyrics to “Breathless” (“I’m scrambling round on the floor/Looking for some fresh metaphor”) make for a love song without the usual sentimentality or mawkishness. Four album tracks from Fake are included and show a more reflective, insular side to the band. The catchy “Submarine” is not in fact about submarines, or sex, but rather about the past haunting you. “Man In a Suitcase” takes its theme from a TV series of the same name and features some lovely guitar fills, while “Lettergo”, cut from a similar cloth, is a bittersweet tale of regret.
This set offers little to those who already have the two albums, a bonus disc of b-sides and rarities would’ve been nice, but as an introduction to this great lost group it is long overdue and should be sent to every post-punk/new-wave revival band with the note: “this is how you reference the 80s!”
1 Interview, New Musical Express, 29 February 1992
Interview, Melody Maker, 14 March 1992
2 “Sunshine Smile” Single of the Week, New Musical Express, 1992
3 Cavanagh, David., The Creation Records Story: My Magpie Eyes Are Hungry for the Prize, Virgin Books, 2000
4 Fake Review, New Musical Express, 24 September, 1994
5 Cavanagh, David., The Creation Records Story: My Magpie Eyes Are Hungry for the Prize, Virgin Books, 2000
6 VK Club, Brussels, 11 November 1994
7 “Sistine Chapel Ceiling”, Single of the Week, New Musical Express, March 1993
8 Also on Against Perfection
9 “Road Move” was originally going to be released between albums replaced at the last minute by Kangaroo Court. Interview, Chester zine, March 1998.