14 Iced Bears In The Beginning

If a teenage Stuart Murdoch (Belle & Sebastian) could not have been found coming home from a Glasgow record shop clutching a 14 Iced Bears record beneath his cardigan, he might now imagine having done so. These aesthetically modest, but melodically and emotionally grand, songs come from a neglected era of British music in which bands identified with the free creative will of punk, but not its rage. It became known as indie-pop, but it truly was pop all the same - as alive and in love as any great pop you can name. Enamored of the Velvet Underground, the Byrds and Echo & the Bunnymen, 14 Iced Bears virtually sabotaged their careers by virtue of their name alone (taken from an animal-shaped Popsicle). That their earliest songs have now been validated here for the ages hopefully proves that names can be deceiving. The band released only three EPs in its first three years: whether saturated with feedback and speed ("Inside"), doleful but determined ("Cut") or dazed and lovesick ("Sure To See"), it somehow all sounds more valuable now than it did 15 years ago. Nostalgia for a few but a brand new thrill for the rest, this small band had huge heart, and they might well make yours burst. (Slumberland)