THE FIELD MICE Whered You Learn To Kiss That Way? (Shinkansen)
The Field Mice are a long-gone London group who became the archetypal Sarah Records band. They played a jangly, lovestruck music ideal for people who found early Wedding Present or Orange Juice a little too violent and sweaty. This double CD retrospective lovingly collects their entire career (seven singles and four albums) give or take a round dozen tracks, adds an informative booklet that probably constitutes the most words written about The Field Mice ever to appear in the same place (albeit with infuriating gaps and detours in the narrative, glossed over with brief quotes that you'd probably have to be in the band to understand) and wraps it up in a cardboard slipcase that actually takes up less space than yer standard issue jewel box, a fitting gesture from this most self-effacing of bands.
Everything that was great and infuriating about The Field Mice is represented here in spades. Here's some of the best post-Smiths doomed romantic bedsit music you'd hope to find - "It Isn't Forever", for example, is the best love song New Order never wrote, whilst "Let's Kiss And Make Up" was a key text for the early Saint Etienne, who covered it. Jangly guitars, sensitive synths, subtle drum programming, all assembled in the service of some poignant truths about relationships, especially those strained by distance and time. On the debit side, singer Bobby was never one for letting a melody hamper his lyrical observations: often his vocals are mangled beyond comprehension to fit the tunes. And there are times when the whole cutesy ethos tumbles into saccharine sentiment, "Coach Station Reunion" being one of the more obvious offenders.
Still, "Where'd You Learn To Kiss That Way?" is still undoubtedly the best way for potential converts to explore the genius of the Field Mice legacy, especially as the whole kit caboodle sells for a mere £14 or so.