Debut album Today is probably Galaxie 500’s finest collection of songs. The listener is spared no introductory niceties being thrown straight into “Flowers” – the archetypal Galaxie 500 elegy and an ode to lunacy – and is edged out uncompromisingly with closer “Tugboat”, the bands’ first single and the lovelorn highlight of their first long-player. In between the two standard bearers of their back catalogue, Galaxie 500 reveal a troupe of songs that, against all odds, manage to stand in equal stead with the brilliant first and final songs.
Calmly schizo-circulating from the dourly sweet (“Pictures”, “It’s Getting Late”) to the upbeat (“Parking Lot”) and through to melodious downcast pop (“Oblivious”, “Temperature’s Rising”), Today is a cacophonous patchwork of rough gems, yet it possesses an accomplished and distinctive identity that holds it all together. Though primitive (perhaps even more so than their second and third albums) the scope of their creativity seems completely unrestrained by their apparent musical limitations – their instrumental (which goes by the name “Instrumental”) showcases the wistful Galaxie 500 sound at its most innovative and achingly beautiful, while their cover of Jonathan Richman’s “Don’t Let Our Youth Go To Waste” is completely invigorating with scathing guitars and a grippingly rhythmic, almost tribal backing. Just as most great covers reinvent the original, here Galaxie 500 manage to do so by firmly stamping their own sound in place.
Across the record, Galaxie 500 introduce the key basic ingredients of what remains so stridently in place along the course of their catalogue – Wareham’s vocal steady yet maddening, his guitar raw and free, his lyrics firmly rooted in the disconsolate and the absurd; Yang’s bass as elegiac as her vocal would later prove to be; Krukowski’s drumming visceral, percussive, commanding. Complemented by the compulsory bonus track, a lulling and downright mesmeric song called “King Of Spain” which sees Wareham’s vocal at its dissonant best, Today is as inescapably brilliant and vital now in 2015 as it was in 1988.