The Close Lobsters - Just Too Bloody Stupid
From Foxheads Stalk This Land, Fire/Enigma LP, 1987
I know it's terribly tacky to exult in the misfortunes of others, but one of the nicest things that ever happened to me was the financial collapse of Enigma Records in 1990-91. As the label started to go under, their LPs and CDs began flooding the remainder bins of chains like Record Bar and Camelot for bargain-basement prices that allowed me (a broke college student on the Texas/New Mexico border with limited access to the indie stores where I would have been able to find these records for full price) to stock up on gems by artists like Game Theory, the Cavedogs, Wire (through their licensing deal with Mute) and, crucially, the Close Lobsters. To this day one of my favorite bands of their time and place, the Close Lobsters were one of several points of entry into the UK indie scene (unlike many bands lumped under this banner, they actually WERE on the legendary C86 cassette released by the NME) and I surely would not have discovered them as early as 1990 without being able to pick up their entire output for $5.64 plus tax at the Record Bar outlet in Lubbock's South Plains Mall one afternoon in early 1990.
Yet as much as I love all three of those records (the 1988 EP What Is There To Smile About? and 1989's Headache Rhetoric complete the trio), for me the primal appeal of the Close Lobsters is neatly summed up by the debut album's stunning opener "Just Too Bloody Stupid." A killer twang-guitar opening riff, rhythm guitars that define the whole post-Smiths British indie aesthetic of treble plus caffeine, and singer Andrew Burnett's atypically punky vocal style and dark lyrical sense ("These backwards, spineless, selfish swine" isn't your usual chorus hook) combine for a nervy three-minute rush of semi-psychedelic fuzz-pop bliss. Nearly two decades later, it still sounds incredibly fresh.