• Superstar
  • Greatest Hits, Volume One EP (UK Creation) 1992 
  • Superstar (SBK) 1994 

Maybe it’s something in the water (saltpeter, perhaps?), but Scotland’s pop scene has often seemed to be populated by the least macho, most willingly snuggly characters this side of the Muppets. A veteran (alongside future members of Teenage Fanclub) of such seminal Glasgow acts as the BMX Bandits, the one-single Boy Hairdressers and the Groovy Little Numbers (a boy/girl duo that released a pair of 12-inches), Superstar mastermind Joe McAlinden may well be the cuddliest of the cuddlecore icons, ambling as he does between lush Jimmy Webb-styled balladry and breezy, brass-tinged arrangements redolent of ’60s Eurofilm scores. After a series of singles on Creation, McAlinden and his fluid assembly of backing musicians (headed up by former Soup Dragons’ guitarist Jim McCulloch) recorded one of the ’90s’ most ethereal — and most sadly overlooked — albums. Compelling enough when experienced from afar, Superstar reveals true heavenliness in its details: the Spanish guitar flourishes that punctuate “Amouricity,” the swelling vocals that crest on the chorus of “Feels Like Forever” and the Renaissance fair strings that frame “Don’t Wanna Die.” The group split up not long after its sole American tour.

[Deborah Sprague]

See also: BMX Bandits, Teenage Fanclub