Beaming Over Close Lobsters—A Primer

May. 5, 2008
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If U.K. '80s guitar-pop bands are like white-button mushrooms—pleasant and abundant—then the Scottish group Close Lobsters are truffles, rare as hell but worth every minute spent hunting them down.

They're one of the great groups of the era, but sadly, barely anyone has heard of them. Not helping their legacy is the fact that their entire discography is out of print, but for music fans who enjoy a bit of a hunt, their small output is easy enough to hunt down. Dig through enough crates of vinyl, though, and you'll eventually unearth a cheap, used copy of their lively debut, Foxheads Stalk This Land. Those with less patience can head straight to eBay, where LP copies can often be picked up for under 10 bucks.

Those without a record player are out of luck, though. Used CD versions of Foxheads start at $50 on Amazon's user stores. For the truly defeated, Foxheads is available on iTunes, but it's the band's only album on the site, so tread cautiously. Close Lobsters records are like crack, and if you're dependent on iTunes, you'll never be able to get that crucial second fix.

Aside from singles and compilation appearances, the Close Lobsters only released two albums and an EP. Here's a chronological breakdown:

Foxheads Stalk This Land (1987) — The band's full-length debut was as jangly wound up as two early R.E.M. albums played simultaneously at 50 RPMs. So much guitar! So much energy! So many hooks! The sweetness is almost dizzying.

What Is There To Smile About?
(1988) — The group reigned themselves in for this all-too-short, essential six-song EP, crafting a perfect set of bittersweet, melancholy pop. The band had several days worth of fine hours, but "Let's Make Some Plans"—with its serene chime, good humor and touchingly resigned tempo—was perhaps their finest.

Headache Rhetoric
(1989) — And with this final full-length, the band's transition from wide-eyed popsters to pensive hermits was complete. Their early playfulness had subsided, but the good humor and binding melodies remained. Not nearly as immediate as its predecessors, Headache Rhetoric is still worth treasuring.

So that, burgeoning Close Lobsters fans, is all you need to know to get started. Two additional websites will offer some guidance should you need it: An endearingly out of date fan site for the band provides plenty of links and some rare mp3s (the links to which, sadly, are usually broken), while a mysterious Myspace page for the group streams some early singles and demos from the band, as well as a slightly garbled mp3 of their signature song, "Let's Make Some Plans."

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