Album Review: The Wee Cherubs – The Merry Makers

The ever-reliable Optic Nerve label are shedding some light on this obscure gem of a band who featured Martin Cotter, later to resurface in The Bachelor Pad, (chiefly remembered for the riotous ‘Country Pancake’ amongst other Buzzcocks meets Syd Barrett classics).

The Wee Cherubs only released one 7” single during their brief existence, (‘Dreaming’ in 1984) which is thankfully included here, as original copies can now fetch a tidy sum.

The songs were all recorded in Glasgow between 1982 and 1985, so they were certainly in the right place at the right time. Almost inevitably the early Postcard sounds of Orange Juice and Aztec Camera can be heard, particularly on the first few tracks.

Whilst the band’s sound will no doubt satisfy the tastes of indie pop fans, there’s also plenty of variety on display here, with a healthy dose of post-punk / new wave added into the mix.

The song ‘Waiting’ marries dub experimentation to an almost polka or sea shanty rhythm, which fans of The Mekons should certainly find familiar. Whilst ‘Two Things At One Time’ employs the densely packed wordplay of those other greats of Scottish indie, The Close Lobsters, before it meanders into the kind of drifting keyboard atmospherics seldom heard since ‘Wonderland’ by XTC.

‘Poor Little Lost Soul’ is a master class in delicate guitar textures, highly reminiscent of Felt during their ‘Ignite The Seven Cannons’ album, on which The Cocteau Twins’ Robin Guthrie produced with his trademark blanket of sound.  More Cocteau Twins stylings can be found on this album, particularly the song ‘Painless’.

‘Theme’ is a moody instrumental track which begins as a dead ringer for post punk / new wave legends The Comsat Angels. This might simply have been an embracing of the sounds of the times, but the similarity is uncanny.

The album closes with a cover of The Velvet Underground classic ‘Waiting For My Man’, in itself not a wholly original idea, but to be fair The Wee Cherubs give us a pretty unique take, with a reverb drenched bass driving the song forward.

Perhaps the main strength of this compilation is in highlighting the band’s embracing of different styles, making for an exciting and rewarding listen. A band definitely worth a reappraisal.

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