Echobelly – On (1995)
When I first heard Echobelly back in the mid-nineties, I wasn’t that impressed. There were so many excellent indie bands around at the time and I unfairly categorised and dismissed Sonya Madan and the group as average Sleeper-like bandwagon jumpers. However, as I worked in a music store at the time, several of the singles, which were on heavy rotation, started to work their way into my mind and, eventually, I relented and bought this album. It was one of those albums that I was almost annoyed to admit that I really liked, but I did – and I still do. Although this is very much an album of the time, released when “Britpop” was very much the big thing (about the only time in my personal history when my musical taste has been remotely mainstream), listening to it now still reveals it to be a very melodic, energetic, enjoyable experience. The big singles (the maddeningly catchy “King Of The Kerb, the irrepressibly upbeat “Great Things” and the quietly epic “Dark Therapy”) are all superb, but this release is much more than just a few good singles with a lot of padding – “On” is also a very good album in pretty much its entirety and there are another handful of tracks which could also easily have been singles.
I don’t think this is just nostalgia talking, either. “Go Away” has a great winding riff, “Pantyhose & Roses” is a great little kitchen-sink drama, the way the album opener, “Car Fiction”, immediately builds the tension is an excellent statement of intent, “Natural Animal” boasts a powerful chorus with a great vocal performance and “Something Hot In A Cold Country” is a beautifully dreamy piece with a memorable chorus. The nearest the album gets to throwaway indie is “Four Letter Word” which does, sadly, seem to go through the motions and convinces far less than the rest of their second album. I have to admit that it loses points for a slight lack of originality, but the songs are strong enough to sound fantastic nearly two decades after its release, the band are tight, Sonya’s voice is likeable, expressive and always just the right side of twee. Although I can’t quite say that this album is one of the greatest ever made and that it’s an absolutely essential purchase, it’s extremely good. If you enjoy listening to indie bands from the mid and late nineties, then I would hazard a guess that “On” would be a very welcome addition to your collection. Listening to it today, it still sounds as excellent as it always did and, quite honestly, it’s all rather fulfilling… no empty feeling inside at all.