Sarge Distant

Bad news - Sarge have decided to call it a day. The world collectively shrugs its shoulders and moves on without even a respectful moment of silence, but based on this final album, which collects unreleased material, live tracks and three cover versions, it looks like a lot of people missed the boat with this band. Distant works well as an introduction because it gives a good idea of what the band had to offer - the new songs don't come across as leftovers, so much as victims of circumstance and the live tracks demonstrate that they didn't rely on any studio trickery to give them their energy and clamour. The covers are kind of silly, particularly "These Boots Are Made For Walking," although I do have a soft spot in my heart for Wham's "Last Christmas..." What is slightly more unexpected about Sarge is the depth behind surface pop buzz - singer Elizabeth Elmore has a real talent for writing lyrics that are interesting and then hiding them behind a killer tune. Reminiscent of a more restrained (or maybe disciplined) version of the Fastbacks, Sarge had some real talent. And as someone who didn't find out about them until it was too late, Distant comes as a welcome surprise. (Parasol)