The Pastels Truckload of Trouble

Wielding the internalised worldview of a lovesick schoolchild as though it were the most heroic stance imaginable, slight Glaswegian Stephen Pastel and his revolving cast of like-minded misfits unknowingly drafted the blueprint for indie-pop - punk attitude grafted onto a bubblegum heart - in 1982, and have remained inconsistent but crucial fringe dwellers to this day. Truckload of Trouble, available again for the first time since the mid-'90s, collects single sides and unreleased tracks from 1986 to 1993, and is as variously charming, thrilling and frustrating as the Pastels have ever been. An improved relationship with their instruments in the early '90s resulted in some moments of perfection ("Thank You For Being You," a cover of Mike Nesmith's "Different Drum"), as well as an unbecoming slickness (Daniel Johnston's "Speeding Motorcycle" treated to a then all-the-rage baggy drumbeat), but tracks culled from their late '80s golden period (especially the mighty "Comin' Through") are the highest of this hour of highlights. (Fire)