The Primitives: Lovely (1988)

After a mid-80s burst of college radio music dominated (for me, at least) by jangly American bands, my attention turned to the UK at the end of the decade and into the early 90s.  One of my favorites was the Primitives, one of the first bands to rise in the wake of the Jesus & Mary Chain, with simple bursts of bubblegum and power pop beneath a wall of feedback.  Though earlier singles by the band stuck more closely with that model, by the time of their 1988 full-length debut, they stripped away some of the distortion and (mostly) went with a shinier pop jangle, deploying the wall of sound more selectively.

Lead singer Tracy Tracy matches the joyous guitar-driven power pop with her infectious, girlish but sturdy vocals, digging the hooks deep.  The album wisely leads off with "Crash," one of the finest pop songs of the era, the sort of thing that begs to open up all your mixtapes; but another half dozen songs are every bit as perfect, delightful ear candy that sticks in your head. "Through The Flowers" and "Spacehead" add some of that buzzing ambience to sugary sweet pop tunes; "Way Behind Me" (a later single added to some pressings of the album) has a classic Motown-ish vibe; "Nothing Left" and "Out Of Reach" similarly milk tons of fun out of just a few chords.  

The whole thing is a pretty flawless pop gem, still fun after all these years (and the follow-up, 1989's Pure, managed to draw more magic from the same well).  After one more album, the perfectly solid Galore, the band broke up, but returned in 2012 with Echoes and Rhymes, which adds a few new tricks and updates the sound but otherwise picks up right where they left off.  All are guaranteed to improve your mood no matter what.

BTW, back around '90 I saw them play in Chicago, opening for the Sugarcubes.  The Sugarcubes were good enough (hey, it's Bjork, of course they're going to be entertaining), but the Primitives were definitely the better gig that evening.

Here's the "Crash" video:
...and a "Way Behind Me" lip-sync:
Here's a live take on "Thru The Flowers":
(You can find a remastered bonus-track version on Amazon.)


  1. Nice piece, I completely agree - just booked tickets to see them for a third time in 2021. Lovely was my first album and I just bought Bloom, their new box set which is equally gleeful and has some new versions of Crash and Out Of Reach which are even more joyous than the versions we know!
    Quick quibble - the 1989 album was "Pure".

    1. Thanks for catching the brain-fart on Pure! I hadn't heard about Bloom, but it looks great... not sure I need it, as I have pretty much all of it other than the live disc and some stray tracks, and they sound perfectly fine, but the flesh is weak...


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