Revenge Of The Goldfish

Inspiral Carpets

Mute, 1992

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


One of those lost ‘90s bands from the alt-rock boom, Inspiral Carpets can be found on the occasional compilation album or when researching beyond the hits of the decade, but really nowhere else these days. I’m fortunate to live within range of a radio station that plays a “retro lunch” every weekday at noon, where bands like this, Edwyn Collins, Gene Loves Jezebel, and Catherine Wheel will get played alongside Depeche Mode, Indigo Girls, Prefab Sprout, R.E.M., and Traveling Wilburys without a second thought. It’s a great show.

Anyway. Goldfish was the Carpets’ third album and the first to embrace rock over electronica, which was all the rage in the early ‘90s, and as such, serves as a link between the Madchester scene that was ending (Stone Roses, Charlatans UK) and the Britpop scene that was starting (Blur and Oasis, who seem to have learned as much from the my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 White Album as from the excellent “Two Worlds Collide” on this album). To be sure, the Carpets had some chart success in their native Britain, but didn’t make a dent in the U.S.

In retrospect, it almost seems like the Madchester scene was too brief and insular to really reach American shores; we had our own things going on in 1987-1991, and the Carpets were an indie band anyway. But more to the point, Goldfish is not a terribly memorable album, sounding of a piece with the times but not transcending them.

It’s not that the songs are bad; far from it. It’s that they are inconsistent, like the band gained some rock noise but lost part of its identity from the previous albums. When it works, you uncover lost gems that deserved more American airplay, like the great “Two Worlds Collide,” “Fire,” and “Irresistible Force.” Some also argue in favor of the hit “Dragging Me Down,” though it hasn’t held up over the years. The powerful, brief opener “Generations” also has a lot going for it: Pixies guitar power, swirls of psych-pop noise and keyboard, fine vocal harmonies, an indie-garage sensibility but better production.

But for these highlights, you have filler like “Smoking Her Clothes,” “Saviour,” “A Little Disappeared,” and “Here Comes The Flood,” which sound fine but somewhat passionless and indistinct. You could listen to much of this album in the background and never have it move you, with the exceptions of the four songs mentioned prior.

It adds up to a frustrating album that feels like it could have been so much more. Those into lost ‘90s alt-rock or the Britpop/Madchester scene will enjoy the best of what’s here; most others won’t find a lot to revisit.

Rating: C

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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