place of origin:
highly original airy, ethereal rock pop driven by shimmering guitars and free-soaring, beautiful vocals
The Beatles, The Smiths, The Cocteau Twins, Van Morrison
Reading, Writing & Arithmetic (1990)
Static & Silence (1997)
David Gavurin (guitar); Harriet Wheeler (voice); Paul Brindley (bass guitar); Patrick Hannah (drums)
"You don't have to subscribe to the theory of following singles with albums with singles. If people forget about you in the meantime, then too bad"
When The Sundays hit the British indie scene in the summer of 1989, they were heralded by the press as the next Smiths. While they didn't share The Smiths' ambitions of world domination, they certainly proved to be one of the most original and innovative bands of the 90's and they quickly became indie heroes. Their sound is airy, ethereal, driven by shimmering melodies and jangling guitar atmospheres. Harriet Wheeler's high-flying sorprano is loose, boundless and beautiful, and her husband David Gavurin's gleaming guitar work boasts a similar soaring feel, free to glide across the songs' laid-back energy. Their presence has been completely personal and unconcerned with passing trends and fads in the highly flakey U.K. music market. This reflects in their rather sparse album output, as they've released a total of three full-length records since their 1988 formation. Yet their international fanbase remains unfettered, as they've managed to win a place in the heart of nearly every thinking music fan and their influence is well aparent in ethereal-tinted acts such as The Innocence Mission and Sarah McClachlan.
David Gavurin was attending university in London, England in 1988 when he met fellow student Harriet Wheeler. Both sharing a passion for music and a mutual ambition, they became lovers and began rehearsing in David's bedroom with his 4-track. By that summer they'd teamed with the wonderfully tight rhythm section of Paul Brindley (bass guitar) and Patrick Hannah (drums), making their debut in London as The Sundays. They were spotted by a number of writers, who swooned at Wheeler's angelic vocals and Gavurin's Johnny Marr-esque guitar jangle. Word quickly spread and as the year closed a label bidding war commenced, ending with The Sundays' settling on renowed U.K. indie label Rough Trade. The debut single "Can't Be Sure", with its shuffling, almost stuttering beat, mournful guitar echo and free soaring vocal delivery by Wheeler thrilled the press and listeners alike winning The Sundays an instant following. They were praised as The Cocteau Twins meets The Smiths, and certainly this wasn't a faulty comparrison, as the songwriting team of Gavurin/Wheeler resembled a more ethereal take on the Marr/Morrisey unit.
The debut album, Reading, Writing and Arithmetic was everything to be hoped for and more, a youthful, energetic collection of downtown London lullabies driven by tights rhythms, loose melodies and a distraught, but never dispairing, self-reflective lyrical outlook. It was released in 1990 along with the single "Here's Where the Story Ends", a cynical tale of love-lost elegantly draped in strumming acoustic guitar. Amidst the endless sea of "trying to be trendy" British market the album and single stood out, and the innovation materialized in major sales, chart success and a lucrative (if sparse) tour. Already The Sundays had won an international following. More recordings couldn't have emerged soon enough.
Yet, with Rough Trade's financial troubles and the band's decision to manage themselves, The Sundays' next single, "Goodbye" wouldn't emerge until 1992. It revealed a slightly more intense guitar sound, and an even gloomier atmosphere made whole by Wheeler's still stunning vocals and the band's trademark gleaming overtones. Again, The Sundays were both critical darlings and the delight of indie fans everywhere. The next album, Blind, revealed a more grown-up Sundays, with Wheeler's vocals and Gavurin's guitar more free and soaring than ever. The moods were darker and just as ethereal, certainly Blind is just as essential as its predecessor. A second single emerged in 1993, a cover of The Rolling Stones' "Wild Horses". Again, the band's touring schedule was sparse, although they were met with nearly salivating fans, starved for new material. Despite the obvious thirst the band dropped out again, and this time they wouldn't be heard from for five years.
Finally, in 1997, The Sundays broke in with their third full length album, Static and Silence and the single "Summertime". Although the record retained the band's trademark jangling guitar and utterly beautiful vocals, it revealed a more traditional folk rock feel (apparently Gavurin and Wheeler had taken a liking to Van Morrison). The melodies were more concise, less free-spirited than in the past which reflected in both Wheeler's vocals and Gavurin's guitar playing, both of which now operated within a more planned, orderly fashion. Mournful crooning gives way to straightforward pop melody, tight guitar/bass/drums approach gives way to string and horn arrangements, ethereal gives way to folk. The Sundays had changed quite a bit,and although the album was fantastic, it wasn't the stunning innovation they'd showcased in the past. Again the band would quickly drop out of the public eye yet The Sundays remain beloved internationally and have found comfortable status as one of the most popular cult bands in the world.
Paul Brindley (left) Patrick Hannah (right)
Harriet Wheeler (left) David Gavurin (right)
As The Sundays haven't released a record in some while, their web selection is normally outdated. A Couple Good sites are Huan's Sundays Page, The Sundays Everyday, But I Still Want More, and Sky's Sundays Page.