With our list of the ten best songs from The Sundays, we look at one of the most criminally underrated indie bands to emerge from Britain. Formed in the late 1980’s, they released three brilliant albums during the 1990s. The band first came into being when vocalist Harriet Wheeler met guitarist David Gauvin whilst they were both attending Bristol University. Wheeler had previously played with a band called Cruel Shoes who were an early incarnation of fellow eighties indie band Jim Jiminee. It was not long after that they recruited Paul Brindley on bass and Patrick Hanan on drums.
After establishing themselves on the live circuit they signed a deal with Rough Trade Records. They released their debut single “Can’t Be Sure” which was taken from their debut album Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. They followed this up with “Here’s Where The Story Ends.” The album was a success reaching number five on the UK charts.
Their next album Blind was released in 1992 and the third and so far, final record Static and Silence did not come out until five years later in 1997. Although they never actually officially split up, there has been no further activity since as Wheeler and Gauvin had two children together and decided to pursue family life.
# 10 – Wild Horses
Kicking off this Sundays Songs list is cover of the Rolling Stones classic which was the closing track of the band’s second album Blind released in 1992. The band very much puts their own spin on it, turning it into a dark and melancholy slice of dream pop. This album as a whole is considered to be the band’s darkest and its sound has been compared to that of bands such as the Cocteau Twins. The title comes from a lyric in the song “Twenty-Four Hours.”
# 9 – Twenty-Four Hours
Speaking of which, here is the next track on the list taken from the same album that is a very morose and atmospheric sounding number. A notable thing about this album is that no singles were actually released from it. Whether or not this was due to the generally less accessible style of the record as a whole is unclear. However, the fact remains that is arguably the best Sundays record in terms of song writing and experimentation.
# 8- Joy
This track is the closing track from Reading, Writing and Arithmetic which as album closers go is definitely pretty epic. The best way to describe the song is that is has a feeling of vulnerability about it, having the band’s use of haunting melodies by way of the classic jangly guitar sound. Harriet Wheeler’s powerful yet somewhat disturbed sounding vocals also make for an intense listening experience.
# 7 – My Finest Hour
Here is a track that lives up to its name, as this very much one of the band’s finest moments. Like much of the first record, it is very reminiscent of The Smiths who it seems were clearly the main influence of the band at this point. However, the song also mixes in a shoegaze kind of sound as it is awash with beautiful atmospheric melodies that transport the listener into a pure state of bliss. Sublime and underrated.
# 6 – I Kicked A Boy
Here is another great track from the first record that once again is very reminiscent of The Smiths. The song’s lyrics are rather mischievous in nature as Wheeler describes her child-like pleasure of being mean to a boy. With that said, it does not come across as mean spirited, instead recalling the loss of childhood innocence. In a way, this is part of what makes it similar to The Smiths, as the lyrics have the same kind of romantic storytelling quality to them as anything Morrisey ever wrote.
# 5 – Hideous Town
This track is yet another taken from the first record that has a more upbeat feel to it more reminiscent to The Cure or New Order. Lyrically, however it is not so upbeat as it deals with the concept of being unable to find something to pursue once one reaches adulthood. All in all , it could be described as a classic “coming of age” song, as it even laments on the boredom of a night on the town, putting across the idea that our childhood longing to become an adult often leads to disappointment when it becomes a reality.
# 4 – Cry
This song was the second single to be released from 1997’s third album Static and Silence. It charted at number forty-five in the UK. The album’s title comes from a quote from the album’s final track “Monochrome” which refers to the Tv screening of the Apollo 11 moon landings, which is also the subject of the albums front cover. The band stated that by the time of this album’s release they had mellowed out a lot and were becoming more influenced by Van Morrison and Frank Sinatra, which is evident on this track.
# 3 – Summertime
This track was the first single to be taken from Static and Silence. It is their most successful worldwide single, reaching number fifteen in the Uk and the top fifty in both Australia and Canada. It was unable to chart on the US Billboard because it was not released psychically. However, it did enter several other charts, with its highest position being number ten on the Modern Rock Charts.
# 2 – Here’s Where The Story Ends
Just off the top spot is the second single to released from Reading. It is a very jangly pop number that is also reminiscent of The Smiths, particularly the song “Cemetery Gates.” The song was not released in the UK as a single due to the collapse of the band’s label Rough Trade records. However, it was successful in the US, topping the Modern Rock Charts for one week. Also, in the UK it did reach number thirty-six in British Radio DJ John Peel’s festive fifty of that year.
# 1 – Can’t Be Sure
At number one is the band’s debut single released in 1989. It was their only single in the United Kingdom to be taken from Reading which was released a year later. Its B-side was “I Kicked a Boy” which as previously stated, was also on the same album. The twelve-inch edition also contained another track that was not featured on the album titled “Don’t Tell Your Mother.” It reached number forty-five on the UK Charts.