The Cat's Miaow

Songs for Girls to Sing

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When it comes to value for the money, Songs for Girls to Sing has to rank up there as one of the best collections around. Not only is it a demonstration of the quartet's productivity -- being the second compilation of singles (from 1994 to 1996) the band had released thus far -- but it's jam-packed to a full CD's length with 36 songs! (The final four are unlisted bonus tracks from a live show, making the collection even more of a treat.) Perhaps understandably, a number of songs on Songs for Girls to Sing are barely fragments, but as a whole it still ranks up there with collections like the Buzzcocks' Singles Going Steady and Pansy Division's Pile-Up as demonstrations of guitar pop excellence. Certainly the Cat's Miaow isn't anywhere near as punkish or loud as either of those two acts, though, sticking to a softly charming approach, with gentle reverb and echo giving everything a hint of a shoegazer influence. A ready comparison would be fellow countrymen the Cannanes, whose David Nichols plays on "Do You Think It'll Snow Tonight?," but the quartet follows its own inspirations instead of simply copying. The range of covers assayed is a good sign in and of itself -- Maxine Nightingale's "Right Back Where We Started From," Patsy Cline's "I Fall to Pieces," and Spiritualized's "Let It Flow" are just three of the choices, plus selections ranging from Phil Spector to St. Etienne. Still, the originals predominate, counting some inspired posthumous "collaborations" with F. Scott Fitzgerald and Chris Bell. Thorough liner notes from Bart make for the icing on the cake, detailing where every song originally turned up, along with a few fun stories along the way. There's the fact that the "This Is All I Ever Wanted" single is "my mum's favorite record," while another incident is recounted in which the group did a launch party for a release "but forgot to give any away."