In a time when most go to a gig to get sweaty, dance and sing along to their favourite pop bands, The Sunbathers are something of a rarity. Julie and Paul are never really morose, but if you're looking to cut a rug, then you'll be searching in the wrong place on a Sunbathers record or at a gig.
Of course, that's perhaps what makes this record such an alluring piece of work. Many compare the band to Marine Girls, and whilst that's fair enough, I also hear Harper Lee, Lovejoy and some more Kitchens of Distinction's more introverted moments, and it's in this tradition that makes me love this record hard.
'Hope' kicks us off, and is positively radiant. A wildly optimistic polka about sharing bags of chips and snogging and go for long walks. Wonderfully, it deviates halfway through into something not dissimilar to mid-period Smiths, with Julie almost veering into a yodel. It's better than I make it sound.
'Hopeless Romantic' continues a theme of coupledom and features a sterling melodica solo from Julie whilst Paul picks a guitar line that makes you wonder if he actually has ten fingers on each hand. It's really quite something on record, and simply mesmerising live.
'Northfield Lane' is what reminds me of Lovejoy and Harper Lee so much. From the seagulls and sea samples to the world-weariness and longing to recapture the past. Could this song be about Northfield Lane in Wells-Next-The-Sea? Answers on a melting ice cream, please.
The Sunbathers make me love the seaside even more than I do already. A gentle masterpiece.