Various Artists

The Kids at the Club: An Indiepop Compilation

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London club night How Does It Feel To Be Loved? became one of the preservers of a more classic indie pop sound in the early 21st century -- it's no surprise that there are at least two, if not more, Belle & Sebastian shirts pictured among the clubgoers inside. The Kids at the Club compilation serves as part celebration of a scene and part publicizing of newer acts, with club boss Ian Watson explaining in the liner notes how many of the bands had connections to the event via DJing, performing or even attending. No less than 19 bands are featured, and if some songs are middling or sweet rather than truly striking -- and if most of the bands are working within well established boundaries rather than letting themselves be uncool enough to take an unexpected chance -- then it's still on balance a nice snapshot of a place, time and aesthetic. Everything from re-vamps of frothy '60s U.K. girl group style to él Records' extreme archness to winsome Sarah-descended melancholic sweetness finds a home on the disc -- the latter connection reinforced by the appearance of one of the scene's patron saints, Dickon Edwards, thanks to his newest group Fosca's "I've Agreed to Something I Shouldn't Have." Another hallowed name appearing is Amelia Fletcher, whose singing on Tender Trap's "Ampersand" shows she is still as captivating as ever. Other outright standouts include the Shimura Curves' wittily titled "Noyfriend" (it sounds very Krautrock for good reason) and Stars of Aviation's sweet chanson "Marie et l'Accordeon." Sometimes it's all down to a moment with the bands -- Voxtrot's ability with a crisp, mournful instrumental break on "The Start of Something," or the soaring brass on Fanfalo's "Elephant Graveyard." Meantime, the sheer exuberance of so many of the songs -- Irene's brief but spot-on ghost-of-early-Smiths effort "Stardust," the Gresham Flyers' "Blackpool" -- serves as the compilation's best calling card.

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