As you listen to 20
, a collection of Gorky's Zygotic Mynci's early singles, it's hard to understand how the Coral
became a critical and commercial phenomenon while Gorky's remain a cultish footnote in rock history. In the mid-90s, the Carmarthen teenagers stumbled upon many of the same attributes that have served the Coral so well: a faintly alarming eclecticism that usually coalesces into something in the neighbourhood of psychedelia or folk-rock, a proud disconnection from prevailing trends and a quirky, almost hippyish sense of humour.
Of course, they did sing a lot in Welsh. But 20 skips over language barriers by virtue of the charm and invention of these songs. In spite of their excellent later work, this may prove to be their most satisfying album. The mood is largely one of rustic disorientation, spattered by the odd splenetic outburst: a cover of Soft Machine's "Why Are We Sleeping?" is a good indicator of the general territory. But the magic of Gorkys is also their determined oddness and unpredictability. So "The Game of Eyes" is a baroque pop classic, roughly resembling "The Monster Mash" covered by Pink Floyd, while "Heart of Kentucky" seeks to graft Krautrock onto hokey country & western and just about gets away with it. Daftness and naivety, in fact, have rarely been so beguiling. --John Mulvey