The Particles 1980s Bubblegum LP
Sydney, Australia’s the PARTICLES started in 1977, directly inspired by the punk’s year-zero explosion, but the trio of EPs that they eventually released between 1980 and 1984 responded to the “anyone can do it” call of punk with a much more playful and colorful palette: shards of spiky post-punk rhythms, smudges of proto-twee/pre-C86 jangle pop, insistently catchy melodies modeled after the ARCHIES and the MONKEES as much as the BUZZCOCKS. 1980s Bubblegum compiles all of the PARTICLES’ recorded material (everything from those three EPs, some comp and live tracks, and a few unreleased bits and bobs), and it’s an utter joy—if it wasn’t already apparent where the latest wave of OZ DIY bands like TERRY and PRIMO! sourced most of their crib notes, it should be now. 1980’s Colour In EP featured three minimalist pop songs with an understated post-punk tension, most notably on “Zig Zag,” where Astrid Spielman’s vocals shift from delicately airy to conversationally detached (think DOLLY MIXTURE/GIRLS AT OUR BEST) over a nervous and jittery beat that’s up there with anything bearing a Postcard Records logo. The PARTICLES’ drummer departed before 1981’s Advanced Coloring EP and the band opted to continue on with a drum machine, which, coupled with some dance-demanding DELTA 5/MO-DETTES-style bass lines (that groove in “(Bits of) Wood” is pretty undeniable), further aligned their sound with the UK’s concurrent femme-centered Rough Trade faction, while the group’s final 7”, 1984’s I Luv Trumpet, circled back to sparse, pastoral pop with the addition of bright, melodic horn parts (that title wasn’t an empty promise). The stark, stilted rhythmic jab of the previously unreleased “Family Life” might just be the highlight of the whole LP, and that was an outtake! The mind boggles at the depths of possibility. Such an important and worthy history documented here.