Album Review – All Signs Point To Life by The Variable Stars (2006 / reissue 2022) (Recorded Psychic Readings)
You see. I am probably more jangly than you. Especially as I was already aware of The Variable Stars as I had the simply sublime Twilight Land lurking on a best of 2006 CD, somewhere deep within the recesses of my CD cabinet. You did not and therefore I am not only more jangly, but probably better than you (for non-Brits…please note I am joking. I do not really think I am better than you, unless you have ever voted for Trump / Brexit or express your racist tendencies in other ways).
However, for my sins (for I like to believe I am the self annointed ‘chosen one’ of all things jangly…please see part in bold in the paragraph above, again) I was unaware that there was an entire album of jangly indie-pop gloriousness (is that a word?).
Essentially, All Signs Point To Life was a 2006 release, now given new life by the superb musical archaeologists at Psychic Recorded Readings. It not only gives an insight into the best of jangly indie-pop of the 80/early 90s, but also serves as a sounding board for all that was great about early 2000s quirk-pop and acts as a sort of musical clarvoiyant for where some music eventually surfaced.
In an eclectic mix, tracks such as Diminishing Returns, Green Fades To Brown and The Understudy Quit The Play, will appeal to fans of The Crystal Furs. All subtle 80s sounding, casio keys retro (keyboard nerds, please forgive me if it’s not a Casio), laced with fey vocals and fluffy, jangly indie-pop that hints at twee-pop, but never quite becomes cutesy enough. It’s the sort of sound that would have appealed to those in the 80/90s, who found the whole Sarah scene, just that bit too vibrant.
Natural bedfellows for the above tracks are Junkfood Romanceand Lights Above Los Gatos (Mystery Lawn), which remove all the ‘retro keys’ and replace them with slight jangle and the indie-pop strains of acts like The Raincoatsand The Marine Girls. They add a sense of ‘yesteryear cool’ for the indiest of middle-aged indie-pop fans.
When the tempo drops, the quirk-pop sounds of The Moldy Peaches course through Ocean Meets Fog and Ash Wednesday and are only really a hop, skip and a jump away from Path Through The Woods and Fishhook, which are ‘the best first bedroom-pop’ tracks ever written, albeit 10 years before the Spotify generation actually made the genre a thing.
I would like to think that this is the signal that the band will start to ignore their day-jobs, kids, wives etc and start indulging in their long lost musical passions once more. However, as is likely, if they are going to remain adults, then this album is a superb legacy that they can be proud of.
Finally, now you know about this album, you are now as good as me. Prove it by grabbing yourself a cassette or digital copy here.