The Glee Club's only full album is and remains a vastly underrated treasure, obscure even to many fans of the 4AD label sound in general. Appearing as it did in 1994, at the height of the Cranberries' popularity, it likely suffered in comparisons of the most casual sort — Irish band, female singer with notable vocal swoops, and so forth. But right from the first song — the haunting, stunning "Need," a brilliantly affecting meditation on love and regret with a killer arrangement thanks to O'Carroll's guitar and violin work — it's clear that something special is at hand. Loughman is the key reason for Mine's sheer emotional impact, her singing able to work just as effectively when soft and quiet as commanding and powerful ("Need" itself gives her the chance to do both, her sudden louder turn clearly showing her inspiration from the likes of Siouxsie Sioux and Elizabeth Frazer). O'Carroll's musical efforts traverse a similarly broad and worthy ground, able to touch on quiet folk, goth-tinged electric leads, and more with equal aplomb. Ever so often his full feedback crunch shows his shoegaze roots as well but, unlike many bands that tried that route, he uses it sparingly, as with the conclusion of "No Reason" (while Loughman is right there with him, not overwhelmed at all). His skills on violin certainly don't hurt either, while the Box/Meehan rhythm section adds the right punch when needed throughout, reaching numerous soaring moments like "The Blame," a smart, sure all-around performance, or "Drives You Away." A quieter turn like "Remember the Years" is all the more effective for its hushed, mesmerizing quality, ever so carefully spooked. If there's an all-around, amazing winner, though, it's "Free to Believe," with a stripped-down, moody funk intro turned into an obsessive, anthemic triumph, Loughman and O'Carroll both in excelsis.
Years Active: '80s, '90s
One of the early-'90s most promising groups, Ireland's Glee Club only ever made one full album, but that was enough to win it deserved attention. The band itself grew out of a three-piece outfit called the Swinging Swine, which toured its home country quite a bit, gaining a grassroots following as they went. Vocalist/lyricist Joanne Loughman and guitarist/violinist Hugh O'Carroll, however, found themselves constrained by the overt classic rock/folk fixation of the group's music, finding their own... Full bio