Heavenly - Le Jardin De Heavenly (Skep Wax Records) (Re-issue)

Heavenly – Le Jardin De Heavenly (Skep Wax Records) (Re-issue)

Recently reformed, for their initial six year run Heavenly were a band that truly embraced the best of what it means to be and sound indie. That’s indie in the sense of indie-pop, rather than a catch-all for anything that has guitars on it. The scene from which they sprung became synonymous with fanzines and bowl haircuts, while various labels were applied including twee and c-86, after a legendary compilation put together by the NME of that name. There were also other terms that still provoke fierce debate over three decades later.

The members of Heavenly – singer Amelia Fletcher, her brother drummer Matthew Fletcher, bassist Robert Pursey and guitarist Peter Momtchiloff had all at various points been members of Talulah Gosh, who had been important players in the indiepop scene. The band’s pedigree was pretty perfect. Signed to seminal indiepop label Sarah Records in the UK, in the US they were signed to K Records (a label so indie that no less an icon than Kurt Cobain had their logo tattoed on him to remind him to stay a child).

Le Jardin De Heavenly was originally released in 1992, following on a year from their debut Heavenly vs. Satan. Whilst that’s a pretty solid album, this is truly a quantum leap forward. Now expanded to a five-piece with the arrival of keyboardist Cathy Rogers, whose contribution is noticeable, their sound began to evolve, too. Whilst few would truly consider Heavenly a shoegaze band (in the way that you might, say, My Bloody Valentine, Chapterhouse or Ride, for example), there’s definitely an element of that or dream pop, as the Americans call it, which might be more appropriate here.

The album opens with ‘Starshy‘ a dreamy-sounding song that mixes the sound that they had made their own with a more ethereal sound, making for a beautiful album opener. Also in this vein is the wistful ‘Different Day.’ It should be noted that there are a variety of styles at play here. One of the album’s key tracks is the call and response of ‘C Is The Heavenly Option’ on which Amelia duets with one Calvin Johnson, the founder of the aforementioned K Records (and frontman of Beat Happening, amongst others). It’s a song wherein the two singers consider their own relationships and ask the other for advice: Don’t play games if you’re broken-hearted/
Don’t try to finish what you ain’t got started.’

Further within, there’s ‘Smile‘ which provides the closest link with their debut, and the original closer ‘Sort Of Mine‘ which is one of those rare songs where it actually gets progressively slower. Further plays, as this writer found, reveal more and more charms within this album, which is a great place to start with Heavenly if you’ve never heard them before (c’mon! shape up).

In conclusion, it’s a gorgeous album that deserves to be played again and again, from five players who were clearly firing on all cylinders. It’s great to have it repressed on vinyl as original copies are now going for upwards of £50, and it also features four bonus tracks: the third Heavenly single ‘So Little Deserve‘/’I’m Not Scared Of You,’ the later a defiant standing up to a male bully, and the first they did for K Records ‘She Says/Escort Crash On Marston Street.’ Truly a heavenly garden, erm, jardin of delights.

Heavenly - Le Jardin De Heavenly (Skep Wax Records) (Re-issue)

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