There are some records which really depend upon context for them to be fully appreciated. And I think/fear that this is one of them. A record that is supposedly super influential on C86 specifically and the lo fi aesthetic in general. And that very well might be true, as I don’t know much about the evolution of that genre prior to the late ’80s. So I’m taking this on a bit on faith.
The music doesn’t strike me that much: sometimes it’s punk, with less of an edge, sometimes it’s power pop, albeit missing some of the power, I’ve seen some label it as “neo psychedelic” but I don’t hear much to justify that description. Some of it reminds me of a more musically sophisticated version of Young Marble Giants if that group had decided to mess with their recording process.
And that’s the thing: the claim to fame here, more than anything else, seems to be the (deliberately) shitty production. So I figure there are a couple of reactions to this production: you like this style of production because you just do so you like the record, you acknowledge that not too many bands did this style of production before so you see it’s historical significance (hi there), or you like the songs enough that you don’t care about the production.
I’m in the middle camp: I don’t know of too many records that sounded like this before this came out, and so it might be a pretty big deal in the evolution of lo fi, bedroom and indie music. I feel reasonably confident of that but not enough to bump up my rating.
But I don’t find the actual music compelling enough to get super excited about it. This record came out at one of the great creative explosions in the history of popular music, post-punk. I listen to a lot of post-punk and like much of it much more than this (in part because I find that other music much more interesting).
It’s possible there’s a personal mood thing getting in the way, or it’s possible that, for whatever reason, I’m not extending my usual historical consideration enough. Either way, I’m having a hard time understanding that the big deal is beyond the production (which does not sound good, but that’s the point).