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.