Vinyl Friday #9: The Sundays “Reading, Writing and Arithmetic

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It’s hardly surprising that one of the most beautiful sounding albums in my collection is also one of the more good looking ones as well. During my study abroad in London (over three years ago now – ouch), I found a copy of The Sundays’ Reading, Writing and Arithmetic – an album I could only dream of discovering in the States. And boy is it a beauty.

I barely buy into the strange coloured vinyl trend because they are often too overpriced just for a change in design (plus I don’t sit and stare at them while they spin). Thankfully, I found this baby in a sale bin in the basement of Rough Trade West. It was actually a surprise since I didn’t bother to look at the sticker on cover that reads in all caps “SPECIAL PRINTED VINYL EDITION” – I just greedily grabbed it and added it to my stack of purchases. The record is in fact designed to look like the sleeve, covered in fossil shells.

The Sundays are one of the most romantic and lovely bands of the 90s, sadly overlooked to most of the world. Their career only spanned three albums, but when one of them sounds as good as this, numbers hardly matter. Harriet Wheeler has a voice of an angel – just hearing her sing sets me off every time. The band is perhaps best known for a song that isn’t included on this album – their cover the Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses.” The single appears on their second album Blind, and also has the proud shining moment of being played at Buffy Summer’s prom.

While “Wild Horses” is very nice, this release is one of the most alluring freshman albums ever made in Britain. Often when I forget why I moved to this country, I listen to this album and remember those months studying abroad when I was trying to figure out this strange place and come to terms with being myself. In every groove in this album I hear a gorgeous ethereal voice and guitars that are like rain and ring out so strongly despite their gentleness. They’re always a comforting reminder that this country has so many wonderful things about it. Sometimes easy to forget, but worth falling in love with all over again. Much like this album.

Yes, I’m writing this as it rains outside in dreary England.

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