O Positive, a collegiate indie-pop troupe who signed their souls to a major label in 1990. That big label effort, toyboatToyBoatTOYBOAT on Sony Records stiffed and you can probably guess what ensued from there. The preceding ep's, 1985's Only Breathing, and Cloud Factory which arrived two years later, lent a semblance of artistic cred to O Positive, whose muse vaguely pointed towards REM and left-of-the-dial power pop (without much emphasis on the "power" quotient). The problem with this two-fer reissue? The tracks from both records are inexplicably intermingled, with a cover of the Left Banke's "Walk Away Renee" tossed in towards the end. I ripped this in the same sequence as the CD, but below are the actual tracklists of the original records, along with some commentary from your friends and mine, Trouser Press.
Only Breathing (1985, Throbbing Lobster)
With You/Pictures/Up Up Up/Say Goodbye/Weight of Days
Cloud Factory (1987, Link)
Talk About Love/Tied/Not Enough/In the Light/Watch Out, This Sled's Made For A Maniac
Only Breathing is a promising debut. Drummer Alex Lob and
bassist David Ingham unite to form a monstrously strong rhythmic
backbone, upon which guitarist/singer Dave Herlihy drapes his clumsy but
earnest lyrics about self-preservation in the face of obsession and
unrequited love. Although this is thematic terrain which has been
crossed a million times, Herlihy displays an Andy Partridge-like
penchant for clever wordplay, some of which works nicely.
Released two years later, Cloud Factory is a horrible
sophomore effort. Murky sound negates the rhythm section; Herlihy's
lyrics and delivery are also gutterballs, an apparent attempt to emulate
Michael "This doesn't make much sense but it sure does sound
intellectual" Stipe stylings. Add in a shameful over-dependence on
guitar effects, and this is one bad record. (Perhaps for comparison
purposes, one CD combines include Only Breathing and Cloud Factory, with "Walk Away Renee" as a bonus.)
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