HEAVENLY

    The first time I listened to Heavenly was in 1990, I can´t remember the date well, but it was at the end of the year. I had a radio program with two friends and one of them brought a copy of "I fell in love last night". When the song finished, Miguel Ángel was not so convinced. "So these are Heavenly... I don´t think they´re too good". Immediately Rafa said "hey, ¡¡I fell in love last night!!.. don´t you think it´s enough??". It´s enough and it´s not a joke. Heavenly can describe those magic moments. When they are sad, they are the blackest cloud on the horizon. And they can do all of this because of their sincerity and passion that give to all their songs. Because they are Heavenly and, like last night I fell in love, they are special.

    The core of the band, Amelia, Peter, Robert and Matthew came from Talulah Gosh, a band close to the C-86 and the Stephen Pastel´s label, 53rd & 3rd. After the split up of Talulah Gosh in the late 80s and in a stage when Amelia Fletcher tried to make dance versions of some own songs, Heavenly´s born. With the experience like Talulah Gosh they soon sign for Sarah Records, which they had tried before to release a flex-single, when flex-singles existed and Sarah was called Sha La La. Three previous singles before their first mini-album release, "Our love is heavenly", "I fell in love last night" and "So little deserve" confirm them as the best punk band of a catalogue, like Sarah´s, terribly pop. After neverending existencial doubts Sarah decides that their bands must record 12" albums (as the love for the 7" singles was the banner of the company from the beginnings).

    The first mini-album was "Heavenly vs. Satan" (90), a green and purple cover, and a supporting choruses by The Catherines of Arrogance, Amelia´s friends. And, above all, masterly songs. From the start, with the funny "Cool Guitar Boy" (the best song that describes the teen hysteria for a handsome guitar player), and the fresh "Shallow", the dancing "Lemonhaired boy", the arrogant "Donít be fooled" or the ramonian "Itís you". They cross so many mood states that only 8 songs turn into a roller coaster where you´re not sure if it comes or goes. You can think that the world is wonderful or maybe that love is a shit, but life this is the life and Heavenly only describe it.

    After this debut album, Cathy joins the band, bringing the experience learnt playing the keyboards in some Oxford bands.Then the sound has more details, the backing vocals are more important, and the band gets more compact. "Le jardin de Heavenly" (92) is their second album, the harshest one. With the special collaboration of Calvin Johnson (in "C is the Heavenly option"), Heavenly set aside the rest of the bands of Sarah´s catalogue with etereal melodies and sweet atmospheres (Field Mice, Sweetest Ache, Orchids), with fast songs with fast rhythms and familiar choruses. If you think that a pop song must have a familiar melody, a dancing rhythm and an intelligent lyrics, then "Le jardin de Heavenly" is full of pop masterpieces.

    After a two years´ stop, in 1994 they release their last album for Sarah, "The decline and fall of Heavenly", an album where the keyboards have a main role and it´s full of bitterer songs, with lyrics about desillusionment and melancholy. Its best song, "Sacramento" implies a search of new languages and an envying instrumental skill. The melodies are less clear and less familiar, but they are the kind of melodies which the more you listen to then, the more you like.

    At the end of that year and the beginning of the next year, they release their last recordings for Sarah, which in those moments they were thinking of closing when they would get the reference number 100. The main sides of both singles, "P.U.N.K. girl" and "Atta Girl" would be released, with other songs all along their career in a compilation called "This is Heavenly" (95) which Elefant Records released only for the spanish market and they would hold the delightful gig at Benicassim Festival that same year.

    After Sarah Records split, they sign for Wiija, in those moments, the most famous label in the UK, and they record "Operation Heavenly" (96), possibly their best album (in Spain released on Elefant). Recognized in those moments as sponsors of Riot Grrrl movement, and idols for bands like Bis, "Operation Heavenly" drove them to become a certain repect and fame in the specialized press and audience. Operation Heavenly is fast, feverish, often dirty but... at deep down there´s always an unmistakable sediment of Heavenly. With another collaboration of Calvin Johnson, a Serge Gainsbourg´s cover and a single like "Space manatee" Heavenly would have become the top and the massive success...

    However, in June of 1996, Matthew Fletcher, drummer since Talulah Gosh and Amelia´s brother commits suicide at his own Oxford home. The shock is terrible and the band decides cancelling all the concerts and stops the promotional commitments. The band even thinks of splitting up. "It´s very soon to say, but we´ll possibly go on", confessed Amelia Fletcher in an interview some months later, "but not under the name of Heavenly; without Matthew it would never be the same". And they carried it out. After three years, Amelia, Cathy, Peter and Robert have come back... although under the name of Marine Research. Now Marine Research have released their first album. Good luck, they deserve it.


© Israel Sánchez.