“If You Get a Song by The Sundays in Your Head, You’re Probably Doing Alright”

About 80 miles or so west of London, sitting within England roughly where LA would be in relation to America, there lies, the water-flanked town of Bristol, which begat The Sundays in the late ’80s. They’re a band with a kind of an occult following, but for anyone unfamiliar, it’s like if Mazzy Star were a full band, wrote their own songs and encountered a rural well of coffee laced with LSD.

And they’re kind of a brand in and of itself. And why shouldn’t they be? Short of naming all their songs, what positioning their albums reached on the pop charts and the critical response, I’ll just point to the instance of this girl in a Whole Foods who burst out into a rendition of “Summertime.” She was with her friend and kind of did this little dance, issuing some of the first lyrics of a verse, her friend remarking something about how they should get some wine and cheese. 

This is how I think of them, in general — they’re a band for soundtracking life’s careless moments, the ones you wanted all along, the ones where you “live for fun,” as Steve Harwell of Smash Mouth might have put it. Somehow, even in Donald Trump’s era, I remember hearing one of their big singles (it must have been “Summertime” or “Here’s Where the Story Ends”) in a gas station in Terre Haute, of all places, and knowing beyond a doubt that we didn’t really live in a fascist society. The Sundays’ music, that is, imbues the sort of blissed-out obliviousness to convention — you could never use it to sell people products that they don’t need. The music is a sustained, eternal reminder that the best things in life are free, or that “We are here to fart around,” as I think Oscar Wilde once put it. 

As should hardly qualify as much of a spoiler alert, their first album, Reading, Writing and Arithmetic (1990), contains the majority of their sum-total hit singles, in terms of commercial success. Static & Silence (1997), though, their third and as of now final album, does issue “Summertime” as its opener — probably their biggest hit to date proviso of a music video finding singer Harriet Wheeler looking precociously modern, I think, in a wide-strapped black dress and bangs. And if you don’t think this is important, if you’re not pleased by the fact that this woman looks nice fronting her band, you’re taking this stuff too seriously, and I feel bad for what’s likely your inability to enjoy this culture-vulture-proof, sugary little cross-section of the celestial from right across from Wales. 


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