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FLATMATES (Buy CDs by this artist)
Happy All the Time EP (UK Subway Organisation) 1987
You're Gonna Cry EP (UK Subway Organisation) 1987
Heaven Knows EP (Subway Organization) 1988
Janice Long Session EP (UK Night Tracks/Strange Fruit) 1988
Shimmer EP (UK Subway Organisation) 1988
Love and Death (The Flatmates 86-89) (Subway Organization) 1990

Over the course of four years, England's Flatmates unleashed a series of loudly perfect two-to-three-minute pop blasts, all on singles or four-song 12-inch EPs. That they never made an album is a telling clue to the quartet's aesthetic, favoring the fix of one radio-ready masterpiece over the cumbersome yearly compiling of a "major" work. Had the Shangri-Las (perhaps fronted by Nico!) been backed by the Buzzcocks, the Flatmates would have been soulmates.

From the quartet's heart-grabbing first single ("I Could Be in Heaven") to its exquisite feedback finale ("My Empty Head"), the Flatmates' approach remained consistent, with only a gradual upgrading of sound quality marking the years. How jewels like "Heaven Knows" and "Turning You Blue" avoided becoming international smashes is beyond comprehension. The posthumous 20-track Love and Death CD (the vinyl omits six) gathers together most of the band's work, adding a few glittering odds and ends.

[Scott McCaughey]