by Let's Active



Though difficult to find (it was seemingly in print for about 15 minutes), this CD combining Let's Active's first two releases, plus a pair of rarities, is essential for all fans of the Southern pop underground of the '80s. Mitch Easter, Sarah Romweber, and Faye Hunter blended psychedelia, bubblegum, and jangly guitars in a way that sounded alternately mysteriously dark and joyously giddy. The 1983 EP is more the latter. Even the lost-love songs like "Every Word Means No" and "Make Up With Me" are too adorable to resist. Easter gets extra coolness points for deliberately mispronouncing the word "anathema" to make it fit the meter in the former song, one of the year's finest singles. All six songs are brilliantly catchy, with more ear-grabbing hooks and production tricks per song than most entire albums, and the entire EP is simply flawless, particularly the ghostly, atmospheric "Edge of the World" and "Leader of Men." Cypress, from 1984, is the darker of the two records, with a thicker and even more psychedelic haze obscuring even the handful of relatively upbeat tracks. Even the catchiest songs here, like the single "Waters Part," have a draggy, druggy feel, and a sort of dispirited ennui hangs over the album as a whole. (It's not surprising that Romweber and Hunter left the band not very long after the album's release.) Still, it's an amazingly engaging record, almost like a Southern new wave version of Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures. On this disc, combined with the sunnier pop pleasures of Afoot, Cypress is that much more powerful and disquieting. This disc adds the previously unreleased "Two Yous" and "Grey Scale," previously only available on the U.K. vinyl pressing of Cypress.

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