Louder Than War

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Britpop Girlbands: Sleeper & Echobelly

Time for a bit of historical reconsideration. Legend would have it that Elastica were the premiere Britpop girlband of the 95/96/97 period and all others were mere pretenders. Whether it was the Damon Albarn factor or their shameless pilfering of entire Wire songs, clearly in NME quarters at least, Elastica were the queens of Britpop. I'm not going to dispute that Elastica were a great band, their first album being one of the sharpest of the period, but I think it's time that Sleeper and Echobelly were also considered.

Sleeper - Inbetweener
I have to confess that I always fancied Sleeper singer Louise Wener like mad, I've always been a sucker for posh girls. This is their breakthrough single and when released had a video that featured Supermarket Sweep presenter Dale Winton - genius. Sleeper were a great pop singles band, but never quite delivered on the album front and it's a shame that a lot of people only know them for the dodgy cover of Blondie's Atomic on the Trainspotting soundtrack. Outspoken vocalist Wener is now a novelist and has written two not bad books - Goodnight Steve McQueen and The Big Blind.

The band produced three albums, Smart, The It Girl and Pleased To Meet You. This particular track is from the 1995's Smart album and is a study in suburban misery, boredom and a doomed relationship - subjects covered by Blur to extensive praise in their album The Great Escape released later that year.

Find out more: Louise Wener website

Echobelly - Four Letter Word
Recently I found out that Echobelly are STILL going, ploughing on in the indie rock toilet scene. This isn't how it was meant to be. Their 1995 sophomore album On was a stone cold pop classic, featuring 12 great songs, including the heavenly Dark Therapy and this particular track.

Echobelly were always a band that should have been bigger than they were. Why? Well their third album Lustra was a bit of a disappointment compared to On. And then they were caught up in the Brit Pop backlash and suffered lineup changes, both putting pay to their chances of ever making it big.

They were a band that weren't afraid to tackle big issues, like when Anglo-Indian vocalist Sonya Aurora Madan was photographed in a T-Shirt proclaiming 'England: My home too'. However their impact may have been diluted by other acts such as Madan dressing up as a schoolgirl (pre Britney) for no apparent reason.

More info: Echobelly fan site

So both of these bands never delivered on their potential. Let's forget about that and enjoy these two Britpop gems.


  • Hi - interested to read your post. I actually shared a house with Louise Wener and guitarist Jon Stewart back in the late 80s in Islington. Had some great times, but couldn't believe it when they hit the big time. And although Lou was a looker, it surprised me to see she was the number one woman in the UK - to think I shared soap with the IT girl!

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