Remembrance Days

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A handy collection of the band's earliest efforts, ranging from extremely early compilation appearances to various EPs, Remembrance Days is certainly a fans-only experience. That said, at worst it's still enjoyably derivative post-punk (certainly the first couple of cuts have a major Joy Division/Cure jones going in a slightly more pop vein) and at best it's sparkling. Admittedly, maybe the borrowing went both ways -- while it doesn't sound similar at all, the fact that the band had a song called "Drowning Man" a year before a similarly titled cut turned up on the Cure's Faith is an amusing note of history. Rick Holliday's keyboards definitely give the band more of an individual voice, and while in the light of history his parts sound terribly thin and restrained (certainly he's no Brian Eno circa Roxy Music), his parts on "The Soldier Stood Alone" and other songs work well enough. That said, nothing can quite help the too-earnest-for-its-own good "Institution Walls," but the music does its best all around. The bandmembers themselves take the opportunity to rearrange the running order of the original Nowhere Girl EP into new form, and there's a wonderfully curious bonus -- a variety of studio snippets as the band tunes up and figures out what to record or try next. Unsurprisingly, "Nowhere Girl" is the king of the tracks, and for good reason; if the band is still doomed to a one-hit wonder existence (new wave division), such a spectacular and wistful mark can't be ignored. It's a slightly different version here in original form, a little murkier and with choppier echoed guitar from Paul Statham, while the vocals are noticeably less smooth.

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