The bulk of this interesting new wave obscurity was unearthed relatively recently, and features over-the-top, insanely catchy pop gems by Liverpool's legendary songsmith Ian Broudie (of Big in Japan and later, the Lightning Seeds). Wild Swans Paul Simpson handles the vocals/lyrics with his typically passionate bellowing. The only serious problem with this compilation is terrible song sequencing. That sounds nitpicky, I know, but song-order really does make a difference in the reactions an album elicits, and poor song placement can sometimes sabotage an otherwise decent record. Also worth mentioning is that Simpson and Broudie had no input when the record label assembled this comp. As a result, half the song titles are incorrect, a few inferior demos were used, and Simpson reportedly can't stand the collection.
But after all that, there's at least 12-14 top-notch pop concoctions here. If you're familiar with Ian Broudie, you can probably guess that here he effortlessly throws out hook after catchy hook with his sparkly, ultra-melodic acoustic 12-string, along with a barrage of colorful, perky synths. Some songs are super sunny and upbeat, but there are some nice moodier numbers ("Nature Prayed Upon", "Whatever Possessed You") to balance out the glee. At times the music here reminds of the Teardrop Explodes, particularly the awesome "My Boyish Days" and the driving "Nature Prayed Upon." Other songs, like "Flaming Sword" and "White Cloud" could keep the most cynical listeners on their toes with inventive and unpredictable chord changes, soaring, dramatic hooks, and gorgeous, baroque string-arrangements. Much of the music here is as hook-laden and pop-savvy as OMD, yet played with the passionate energy of Echo & the Bunnymen.
That the music itself is strong enough for me to overlook the poor song order and still enjoy this cd, is quite a testament to Broudie's almost flawless, expert pop-craftsmanship. I mean, these hooks will NOT leave my freakin' head! And (at the time of writing) the damn cd has been in constant rotation for well over a week now. Highly recommended for those whose lives depend upon shimmering, hook-filled, artful, Liverpudlian pop.