1989: The Charlottes - LoveHappy

Huntington, UK’s The Charlottes formed in 1988. They recorded a little over an hour’s worth of material in their relatively short existence, compiled and reissued in 2006 on Liar: The Best of The Charlottes. The quartet’s debut, LoveHappy (1989), is a brief affair, running through eight songs in 22 minutes.

Far more on the brash and noisy end of the shoegaze/noise-pop spectrum (as opposed to the atmospheric, dream-pop end), LoveHappy is remarkably upbeat and energetic. A song like “Keep Me Down” reigns in the energy for a slightly more dream-pop approach but, unlike some of their contemporaries in the late-80s, The Charlottes don’t tend to aim for the ethereal — everything here is firmly grounded within a guitar/drums pop foundation and, when they do get more ungrounded, it’s with guitar feedback and rapid, messy strumming. Vocalist Petra Roddis also has a sweet voice not unlike Pam Berry of Washington, DC’s Black Tambourine, to whom one could easily compare the British quartet with — saccharine melodies, bristly feedback and all.

One element that sets The Charlottes apart from many other shoegaze bands of the era is Simon Scott’s messy, energetic drumming. Some of his scattershot tom-fills are a bit goofy (see opening track “Are You Happy Now?”), but Scott’s presence gives The Charlottes a far more aggressive rhythmic drive than My Bloody Valentine, Ride, and most other late-80s shoegaze/noise-pop acts (ignoring its distinctly late-80s guitar noise section, “In My Hair” could pass as a punk song, or at least as hyper-energetic twee). Scott joined Slowdive in 1990, and just released a new solo album, Bunny, in October.

The Charlottes broke up in 1991, releasing the much longer and more realized Things Come Apart that same year. LoveHappy, however, possesses a certain charm of effervescent naïveté that’s tough to replicate. It’s an off-kilter, wide-eyed debut that’s equally clumsy, endearing, and boisterous. Such charm can’t be manufactured, and it’s difficult to replicate — Beat Happening pulled it off a few times, but even they reached a point of dubious self-awareness.

This particular style of noise-pop continues to show up constantly (Slumberland Records, anyone?), with some of the best contemporary examples I can think of coming from Montreal’s Silver Dapple and New York’s Weed Hounds. Fans of earlier innovators like Black Tambourine would do especially well to give LoveHappy a listen — The Charlottes could fit snugly between them and The Vaselines on any post-C86 indie pop mixtape.


There’s a lot of good music out there, and it’s not all being released this year. With DeLorean, we aim to rediscover overlooked artists and genres, to listen to music historically and contextually, to underscore the fluidity of music. While we will cover reissues here, our focus will be on music that’s not being pushed by a PR firm.

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