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Album Review

Having reissued Northern Picture Library's sole album, Alaska, with the tracks from the Love Songs for the Dead Che single, it was fairly unsurprising that LTM would follow up with Postscript, pulling together all the remaining singles and one-off cuts from the group, thus superseding the previous such compilation Still Life. Unlike the generally lengthier, propulsive psychedelia of Alaska, on singles Northern Picture Library aimed for more immediate, shorter pleasures not far removed from the Field Mice but not simply that band's work redux. That said, one of the band's longest numbers turns up here — "Dear Faraway Friend," at almost 11 minutes a gentle, steady ramble that slowly but surely turns into a massive noise freak-out, showing their love for the likes of Loop perhaps even more readily than the Field Mice's cover of "Burning World" did. "Norfolk Windmills," for many the group's crucial song, marries Bob Wratten's gift for a just-wounded-enough vocal with a gorgeous, country-tinged guitar part over a rhythm section that just kicks up enough for the chorus — it's a simple combination of elements but they all come together perfectly, culminating in a lovely coda. Gemma Townley's cello adds beautiful melancholy to both "Last September's Farewell Kiss" and especially "Signs," one of Wratten's most stripped-down and sad songs ever. "Paris," which opens the collection, has a hint of shoegaze overdrive in its lead guitar part, but Annemari Davies' vocals don't get lost in the mix. Her moment of glory on the disc, though, is "Here to Stay," which consists solely of her singing and swells of absolutely thrilling synth melodies, simple enough but sounding as big as the universe. The final four tracks are the rarities, including two covers, one of the band Stars of Heaven, whose "Ammonia Train" was intended for a tribute album, the other, "Something Good," a selection from The Sound of Music that was part of a charity album featuring bands covering the entire musical.


Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s

Formed from the ashes of the beloved Sarah Records band the Field Mice, Northern Picture Library reunited the group's frontman Robert Wratten and keyboardist/vocalist Annemari Davies, who together pursued a more ambient, trip-hop-flavored aesthetic than in their former incarnation. After releasing a handful of tracks under the name Yesterday Sky, Wratten and Davies formed Northern Picture Library in 1993 after the addition of drummer and fellow Field Mice alum Mark Dobson, soon debuting with the...
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Postscript, Northern Picture Library
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