The Bank of England

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The Bank of England was the swan song 1998 third LP by a decade-old Reading band that originally recorded for Bristol's 1987-1995 Sarah label, released on Sarah co-head Matt Haynes' successor label, Shinkansen (also home of Trembling Blue Stars, who, like an older Blueboy lineup, included Harvey Williams). Blueboy, named for a brilliant, pricklier Orange Juice song, were no standard issue effeminate Sarah delicacy like stalwarts the Field Mice. The Bank of England lovingly looked back at the prematurely faded 1988-1994 shoegaze/dream pop sound they’d witnessed from the periphery. It’s there, from the divine Kitchens of Distinction/Cocteau Twins/Slowdive guitar float of "Love Yourself," to the more urgent Pale Saints/Adorable/Revolver ride of "Miss U.K." and "By Appointment," to the House of Love mystery on "Jennifer Yeah," to the breezy Lush/Carnival of Light-era Ride/Moose trip of jangle-single "Marco Polo." Blueboy were more mannered than the above, but still quintessentially English; top-shelf guitarist Paul Stewart had all the reverb, distortion, and delay that lovers of subconscious guitars favored, paired with other remaining original member Keith Girdler's boyish vocals -- and Cath Close's frequent dulcet duets. But they were also British in that the songs were so interestingly plotted with poetic words, with equal subtleties in Stewart's riffs and chord patterns. Blueboy's post-release demise was a shame, following two London gig -- in favor of already-going side project Arabesque and eventually, Beaumont -- but the 2004 cancer death of Girdler proved the real tragedy. The Bank of England is his worthy monument.

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