The Sundays began the ’90s by combining the best of the previous decade’s indie rock – The Smiths and the Cocteau Twins – with a wall of guitars courtesy of David Gavurin topped with the exquisite vocals of Harriet Wheeler. Tasting near-immediate success with their debut, Reading, Writing and Arithmetic, and its single, “Here’s Where The Story Ends,” the group traded in atmospheric, jangly guitar pop heavy on the reverb. A similarly flavored follow-up, Blind, followed in 1992, best known on these shores for featuring a dream-pop reading of the Stones “Wild Horses.” Budweiser commercials beckoned, both albums went Gold, then the Sundays – vanished.
Five years later, the Sundays suddenly reemerged. During their hiatus, Gavurin and Wheeler built their own home studio and recorded 1997’s Static & Silence. Gone was the wall of reverb production, replaced by a cleaner sound that firmly placed Wheeler’s voice front and center. A lot of the atmosphere from the first two albums was gone, but thankfully, the songs were still there, just brighter. No tune on the set showcased this new direction more than the single, “Summertime,” which became a Top 10 Modern Rock hit and even hit #13 on the Adult Top 40 Chart (whatever that is). Static & Silence became the band’s highest charting album and it looked like mainstream crossover success was next.
The second single chosen from the set, “Cry,” (download) was the song probably most like the Sundays of old. A total 180 from the sunniness of “Summertime,” “Cry” dealt with loss and regret set to a downbeat guitar riff. A huge fan of the Sundays’ first two discs, I, of course, loved it.
Unfortunately, radio programmers didn’t embrace “Cry” the way they did “Summertime.” The two CD singles released to promote the track featured some great Sundays rarities, however. CD1 had the demo versions of “Can’t Be Sure” and “You’re Not The Only One I Know” from Reading, Writing and Arithmetic, but the real treasures are on CD2, which featured two new b-sides. “Through The Dark” (download) and “Life Goes On” (download) were classic old-school Sundays tracks, albeit with the brighter home studio production finish.
The b-sides may have been a taste of the band’s next direction, but once again they vanished, this time seemingly for good. Gavurin and Wheeler reportedly walked away from the music industry to raise their children, but heck, those kids must be at least 12 years old by now. I can understand not touring anymore or doing promo, but to never even record again? With a home studio? You guys are killing me. KILLING. ME.
“Cry” did not chart.
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