Reading, Writing & Arithmetic

The Sundays, 1990

Reading, Writing & Arithmetic might seem an odd choice for me, if only because it's not the least bit 'odd'. It's designed to appeal from top to bottom—a thoroughly candied pop record. It's a damn fine one, though. That the Sundays were a template for a host of insufferable and half-baked bands that followed in their wake throughout the 90s can't really be blamed on them. Alternately, It could be argued they're the last gasp of a particular kind of britpop: madchester was on the rise, grunge was about to invade from the colonies, techno was gaining ground in the clubs and the retro-conservatism of Oasis was on the horizon. The guitarist, David Gavurin is a shameless acolyte of Johnny Marr's chiming and jangly riffs. Singer Harriet Wheeler has a voice that seems (impossibly) both girlish and forceful. Listen to when she sings, "I kicked a boy until he cried" sweetly, but with backbone. There is not a single bum note on this set and two fistfuls of jangle-pop highs. You can scoff at Reading, Writing & Arithmetic as a dated slab of disposable culture, but I think it will outlast your scorn and be recognized as an under-appreciated pop masterwork.