Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Bigger than the Beatles part 3

The next should be bigger than the beatles band is "Spearmint" a 5 piece from east london. They often in the early days got lumped in with Brit pop but if that is right the emphasis has definitely been on the pop. They have released 4 cds + 2 collections of bsides and non album tracks as well as an xmas mini album and an acoustic mini album. Their ambitions always seem to go beyond the average bands , the 4 main albums all follow a theme or even a "concept" and the lead singer / lyric writer Shirely Lee's main ambition is to write a full blown musical.

A week away is the first album proper, released in 1999, and is full of catchy hooks with a magpie approach to influences. The idea was to have a perfect pop album that was made up of single after single. They didn't quite manage it and there are some ideas that don't work. The concept here is that you have a limited time on earth and you start out full of enthusiasm and energy and the gradually realise that time is running out.
There are some great sing along songs on the album included the almost break through single "sweeping the nation" which celebrates music and all those obscure bands that never make it.

Two years after the release of sweeping the nation came Spearmint's masterpiece - " A different Lifetime" The concept this time was a song cycle of falling in love - being in love - breaking up. There really feels like a strong narrative that runs through the whole of the lp and as a result it is one of those records that needs to be listened all the way through (having said that I'm still posting a track). Unfortunately the grand concepts did translate into big costs but not big sales.
Shirely Lee has said on the website that he now wished they had gone the whole hog and made it a double lp
The track I've posted is the title track and the key song in the cycle told from the perspective of the narrator to the girl who has left him

Another 2 years and in 2003 "My Missing Days" appeared. The songs on this album were"home recorded" as they were written and it tells , not in the quality of recording but the fact they are on the whole more immediate and simpler than those on "A Different Lifetime". The idea for this one was to take someone whose life is about to change dramatically but tell it backwards so the first track is "A happy Ending" and the last track "The start of it all". It has some great tracks on it but overall doesn't reach the heights of a "Different lifetime"

"I didnt buy you flowers" - Spearmint

The last release "Paris in a bottle" sees the band move closest to the singer's musical ambitions. The first track , a long spoken word piece set to music with a great sung chorus, relates the tale of 2 English buskers in Paris who spend the night with 2 french girls. In the course of the evening they each write their ambitions on a playing card and then swap them. The rest of the cd picks up with each of the characters in the future to see how things have turned out. The album finishes with a reprise of the opening track this time as one of the french girls remembers the night. The songs are all strong , they don't work quite as well as a running narrative. The musical element is picked up as other vocalist sing the parts of the characters , confusingly not always for the relevant song.
For example I'm not sure which of the characters is relating the track I've posted here - still its a great song
The bands website is great and can be found here
Spearmint's cds can be bought here and I'd go for A different Lifetime first
As befits a band whose ambitions are a bit more than release, tour, release - the have recently had a book of comic strips released that interpret their songs!


  1. OK,that does it....we definately have the same record collection!My favourite Spearmint track is 'Scottish Pop', fantastic
    Tel Aviv

  2. I like that one - i just think the whole of a different lifetime works so well

    I've got quite a few posts lined up but after that I'm going to try and post somethign that you havent got so you can let me know what you think!


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