Those of us who spent our adolescent years poring over coffee stained copies of The Catcher In The Rye or Tess of the d’Ubervilles whilst bitterly rueing the fact that not a single girl in our school, college or workplace had the good sense to notice the painfully shy bookworm sitting tongue tied beside them, often took refuge in a particular form of popular music. Spurned and tormented, we squandered our teenage years in the self-imposed exile of our back bedrooms, consoling ourselves there by listening to a flutter of indie bands that had somehow cornered the market in self-pitying heartbreak and juvenile angst. We took a perverse pleasure in the confessions of these kindred spirits, as they meekly extolled the trials and tribulations of loveless lives that mirrored our own lachrymose existence.
The Smiths, in this respect, were beyond comparison, and in Morrissey they possessed a songwriter without equal in the miserablist pop pantheon. There were other bands, though, that had plenty to say on the subject of unrequited love. A whole genre of indie-pop, whether you call it twee, shambling or C-86, after the NME’s legendary mix-tape, was absolutely mired in it. Whilst bands like The Wedding Present (and for me David Gedge was the unofficial spokesman for the legion of shy-hearted boys who couldn’t summon the courage to front-up at the Friday night disco) enjoyed a lengthy spell in the limelight, many of their C-86 compatriots simply faded into obscurity. In some cases, no doubt, this was a blessing in disguise. However, bands like The Servants and Birmingham’s Mighty Mighty surely deserved to be more than a footnote in indie-pop history.