The Sundays debut album arrived in 1988 on Rough Trade and immediately became one of the labels biggest selling bands thanks to the wonderful debut single "Can't be sure". Championed by indie DJ John Peel, a buzz around the band started to grow as Peel named the song top of his festive 50 that year and consequently great things were expected of the album. Released against the backdrop of the emerging "baggy" scene in Manchester "Reading, Writing and Arithmetic" was seen rather out of step with the new laddish dance/rock of the Stone Roses or Happy Mondays and more in common with more traditional indie stalwarts like The Smiths or Felt.
Despite dissapointingly lukewarm reviews from the music press, the band quickly established a strong live following playing venues far larger than many of their peers. Musically the record is archetypelly British but has an undeniable charm and quality which elevates them away from just mere Mozza and co copycats. Harriet Wheeler's vocals are superb, her distinctive voice giving a certain nostalgic haunted quaility to the songs and allowing them to shine. Wheeler deserves to be recognised as one of the best female singers this country has produced in the last twenty years. The bands songwriting is strong too, "I Won", "You're Not The Only One I Know" and "Here's Where The Story Ends" are memorable melodic and never stray into self indulgence.
In this modern high profile pop world its hard to imagine a band so resolutely understated nowadays (even their enigmatic record sleeve gives absolutely nothing away) and I can't help feeling the bands commercial potential never fully realised despite two futher excellent albums and a few minor hit singles. As if to prove a point a dance cover of "Here's where the story ends" by remixers Tin Tin Out reached number seven in the UK charts in 1997, it must have afforded the band a wry smile. Hype comes and goes, but quite rightly this album is being acclaimed subsequently as a classic.
"Reading, Writing And Arithmetic" is the quintessential Sundays album and although it was their debut release at the beginning of the nineties, it is sill their most accomplished effort to date. It's their best album from whichever angle you look at it from, whether it be the lyrics, vocals, music or production the album is head and shoulders above any of their other releases. The album has a very mellow vibe to it and the soft shy vocals of Harriet Wheeler perfectly compliment these slow tracks which are generally acoustically driven, although the rock of "Finest Hour" and "Joy" make for a pleasant change of pace and keeps the listener interested. Generally the songs are very simple and the album has a very pleasant vibe to it. If you're into a slower more mature rock sound this album is a must.
This debut album has not been bettered by the Sundays in a paltry workrate of 2 albums since. Harriet Wheeler's effortlessly beautifully voice, in conjunction with some inventive, resonant guitar, slightly reminiscent of the Edge and John Fahey. Fine songs in the most part; perhaps one or two are merely good, but even they are rendered part of a fine whole by the band's modest, melancholy sound. I particularly think "Skin ad Bones", "Can't Be Sure", "I Kicked a Boy" and "Hideous Towns" are superb, beautiful songs, well crafted.
first heard the sundays on glr (london indie radio) and was moved so much I rang up the station desperate to find out who was making such beguiling music, went straight out and bought this album on rough trade for £14.99 (no under a tenner cd's in them days) and still got it still listening to it, such a great album so difficult even impossible for them to follow it up. Harriet's voice so lilting and persuasive, daves guitar just hits those places perfectly, you need to hear it.
Rightly regarded as 0ne of the best albums of the nineties if not of all time.This brilliant band no longer exists but there is an alternative,try the Innocence Mission, especially the album Glow which is the nearest sound to the Sundays i've heard.The good thing is this band has made a number of albums and this year 2011 released their latest.Maybe not the Sundays but the next best thing.
Tin Tin Out utterly destroyed 'Here's where the story ends' when they covered it recently. It first came out on 'Reading, Writing...' - I don't even think it was a single. The original version is two or three thousand times better than the cover, so that's your first reason for getting this CD. Also, The Sundays haven't bettered themselves since this album - which is another fine reason to get it. More excuses? 'I kicked a boy', 'You're not the only one I know', 'My finest hour'... enough said.