Something On My Mind
Don’t Let Your Love Start a War
Beyond Friday’s Field
Abergele Next Time
Palm Of My Hand
Love’s A Beautiful Place
Meadow of Love
PACIFIC STREET, NME, 10 MARCH 1984
Many traumas have preceded the release of this sissy platter. The Fountains ploughed through five different producers before deciding to produce it themselves and suffered the added setback of having wistful troubadour Michael Head encounter a creative crisis in his head and a London hotel.
Boy scout and Bacharach chic, their brave new vision many moons ago, is now (if you’ll pardon the metaphor) the stuff that chips are wrapped in. Now that the limelight has shifted to their progressors, Aztec Camera and Prefab Sprout, it is safe to look upon them without being dazzled by the flare of average talent, publicity and milksoppiness.
The work is still largely peopled with the thrumming of massed acoustic guitar lines which probably began blossoming in lunchtime Christian Union sing-songs at grammar school. There are a number of anonymous pretty songs, dandy ear-fillers for the person whose ideal summer’s day is a reply to that Tracey Thorne fan letter and a lettuce sandwich. The most outstanding aspect is the trumpet of Andrew Diagram, who also supplies the horns for Rough Trade’s Discolation Dance. With The Pale Fountains (did they choose that name so as to embarrass would-be punsters who would find quips like drips and leaks and colourless a mite too obvious?) the bugle blows independently and often obtrusively. Meanwhile, the self-same tooting works wonders with Discolation Dance whose Bacharach period matured successfully into assertive pop individuality which is worth a zillion Pale Fountains.
There are too many mannered atmospherics: somebody flicks flamenco on a Woolworth’s guitar whilst Mickey Head winds down and moans obscurely into his Horlicks before starting the song proper.
Three things, however, should be salvaged from the shallows. First the song Reach, with it’s fluid, soothing chorus: even now I can hear it tinnily coasting through my mind’s ear. Then there’s the record cover which is a photograph of fine, upstanding Red Youth (the connection with the Fountains remains unfathomable). Finally (isn’t it nice to end on a note of optimism?) their Southbound Excursion. It falls the right side of Roddy Frame in it’s robustness. Otherwise Abandon Bivouac!