Published Jan 01, 2006There is no limit to the number of ways that a pop song can express romantic disappointment and few people have so ceaselessly explored this avenue of possibility as Trembling Blue Stars Bob Wratten. His previous bands, the Field Mice and Northern Picture Library, had always been characterised by dignified but inconsolable melancholy, but Trembling Blue Stars meditations of longing and regret are a beautiful, terrible extreme the bands first album, Her Handwriting (recently reissued in North America), was entirely about Wrattens break-up with former band-mate Annemari Davies. A Certain Evening Light, a collection of TBSs out-of-print single and EP sides, suggests that the residue of that relationship never entirely washed away; indeed, debate still simmers among the bands cult following that most of his songs are about her. What really matters, though, is the lucidity and melodic grace of these sad little songs, in which guitars, electronic textures and Wrattens resigned voice wrap themselves around each other for warmth. A perfect introduction to an underrated songwriter that carries a torch on behalf of us all.
Given the short lives of the Field Mice and Northern Picture Library, are you surprised that Trembling Blue Stars has lasted?
Not really, because it was essentially [begun as] a solo project, so it was hard to split up, although weve been through many line-ups. I just decided as long as I carried on making music, it would be called Trembling Blue Stars.
Romantic disappointment has been your most recurrent theme. Why are you so attracted to pathos?
Im a lot happier now, but like a lot of people, sad books, records and films hold an attraction for me. A lot of the music I listen to isnt reflected in what we do. Im trying to write songs about different things now as circumstances have changed.
Is this compilation more or less gratifying than a "proper album, or a different kind of gratification?
Considering its a collection of non-album tracks, I think it holds up well and shows we give good b-side! We always treat every song equally. (Shinkansen)