Heavenly (British band)
|Genres||Twee pop, indie pop, indie rock|
|Labels||Sarah Records, K Records|
|Associated acts||Talulah Gosh, Tender Trap, Marine Research, Scarlet's Well, Would Be Goods, Razorcuts|
Heavenly were a 1990s twee pop band, originally forming in Oxford, England in 1989. Amelia Fletcher (vocals/guitar), Mathew Fletcher (drums; Amelia's brother), Peter Momtchiloff (guitar) and Robert Pursey (bass) had all been members of Talulah Gosh, a key member of the C86 scene.
Heavenly debuted with the 7" single "I Fell in Love Last Night", followed by another 7", "Our Love Is Heavenly", both released in 1990 on Sarah Records. Heavenly vs. Satan, the group's debut album, came out in 1991. At this stage in their career, Heavenly's songs were still mainly concerned with an innocent view of love, whether or not requited, and the instrumentation remained very much the same jangly guitar style used by Talulah Gosh.
Before releasing the critically acclaimed Le Jardin de Heavenly, Cathy Rogers (keyboard, back-up vocals) joined the band. Her harmony vocals and keyboards became an integral part of the group's sound. Another strikingly different element of the group's second album was the inclusion of the track, "C is the Heavenly Option," featuring the guest vocals of K Records founder Calvin Johnson, who released Heavenly's records in the US. Johnson would go on to provide additional guest vocals on each of the Heavenly albums following Le Jardin de Heavenly.
Before their next long-player, Heavenly released two non-album 7" singles, "P.U.N.K. Girl" and "Atta Girl." These signalled a growing complexity in Amelia's songwriting, particularly "Atta Girl," in which Amelia and Cathy sung in rapid-fire trade-off vocals. A broadening (and darkening) of lyrical subject matter was shown in the B-side, "Hearts and Crosses," which told the story of a date rape, with an upbeat keyboard riff providing an ironic counterpoint.
The band's third LP was The Decline and Fall of Heavenly (1994). Here the group were at their most commercial and at their most attuned with the growing Britpop movement. The arrangements expanded even more to include strings and a large amount of percussion, and the dual-vocal trick was used on several tracks. Lyrically, the old romantic view of love was largely banished, with tracks such as "Modestic" and "Three Star Compartment" portraying people trapped in loveless relationships and "Sperm Meets Egg, So What?" (the title adapted from McCarthy's "Boy Meets Girl, So What?") being about an unwanted pregnancy. The tunes remained as jolly as ever.
The group's last album was Operation Heavenly (1996). Sarah Records had closed while the album was being recorded, so the album came out on Wiiija instead. Arriving in the middle of the Britpop boom, the album contained a cover of the Serge Gainsbourg-penned and France Gall-performed "Nous ne sommes pas des anges," sung entirely in French by Amelia. Though it was still recognisably the Heavenly sound, and even included a second Calvin Johnson guest spot on the track "Pet Monkey." However, shortly before the release of Operation Heavenly, Mathew Fletcher, the band's drummer and Amelia's brother, committed suicide. The remaining members announced that the band name Heavenly was to be retired, but that they would continue, using the name Marine Research, a moniker under which they released a single album, 1999's Sounds From The Gulf Stream, on K Records (it was not released separately in Britain). Afterwards, Marine Research dissolved. The band's core members reformed in 2002 as Tender Trap, releasing their debut album, Film Molecules, on K Records once again. 2006 saw the release of two new Tender Trap releases – two EPs, Language Lessons and ¿Como te Llamas?, and a full-length album, 6 Billion People.
In the song "We Can Get Together" on the album Heaven is Whenever, The Hold Steady sing "she said Heavenly were cool, I think they were from Oxford." The song also directly references Matthew Fletcher's suicide with the line "He wasn't just the drummer he was the singer's younger brother".
- Heavenly vs. Satan (1991)
- Le Jardin de Heavenly (1992)
- The Decline and Fall of Heavenly (1994)
- Operation Heavenly (1996)
- Craig Finn (27 May 2010). "In the wake of Heavenly's Space Manatee". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 January 2014.