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Album Review

This French mini-album collects eight early singles from the quintet, only one of which, the lead-off track "Skin Storm," will be familiar from Shouting Quietly. The band's most famous number due to the cover version by semi-mentor Morrissey some three years later, "Skin Storm" does sound rather like something the ex-Smiths singer would have written himself, but is no less charming for it. Ian H.'s singing isn't a Moz-clone, happily — a quiet, restful passion, if anything, is at the heart of it, an interesting contrast with the charged sexual energy of the lyrics. The combination of acoustic/electric chime and synth shadings is a fine final touch. The remaining numbers are a mixed but still entertaining bunch, which interestingly show Ian H.'s Smiths inspirations more clearly than "Skin Storm" at points — check out the rolled R's and slight yelps on "Everything At Once." Offhand lyrical references to "cattlemarket discos" and "trendy clothes" give a sense of the relationship and personal politics at play. If Ian H. is ultimately no Morrissey himself, his kinship with fellow Smiths-obsessives and loathers of modern romantic and social games as Luke Haines or Thom Yorke makes a certain sense. As it is, Gene frontman Martin Rossiter might as well have also been taking notes, what with song titles like "Dodging Around in Cars" and "Tattered, Tangled and Torn." The crisp sound of the group as a whole is very post-punk English and eighties, ringing, sprightly, melancholy, and more as need and mood determine. While this out-of-print collection isn't life-changing, anyone stumbling across it might want to give it an ear — the fact that the cover looks exactly like a Smiths cover shot shouldn't surprise anyone.

Bradford, Bradford
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