Singles & EPs
About Close Lobsters
In their unfortunately short-lived first phase of being, Scottish neo-psychedelic jangle pop band Close Lobsters managed only two albums and an EP, all three releases ranking among the best of the late-'80s U.K. indie scene. The band was grouped with the C-86 scene, but they showed a greater commitment to melody throughout their excellent debut full-length, 1987's Foxheads Stalk This Land. After regrouping in 2012 for a festival appearance, Close Lobsters began working on new material for the first time since their 1989 breakup.
Close Lobsters were formed in the Scottish village of Paisley (prophetically enough, given the band's psychedelic tendencies) in 1985 by singer Andrew Burnett and drummer Stewart McFayden. The pair couldn't decide between the names the Close and the Lobsters and simply combined the two for their nonsensical but evocative handle. Adding guitarists Tom Donnelly and Graeme Wilmington, plus Burnett's brother Robert on bass, Close Lobsters gained some early notoriety when their song "Fire Station Towers" showed up on the legendary New Musical Express cassette C-86, which lent its name to an entire movement of post-punk guitar bands. Their first single, "Going to Heaven to See If It Rains," was released in November 1986. A second single, "Never Seen Before," appeared in April 1987, with a superior re-recorded version of "Fire Station Towers" and a cover of the Only Ones' "Wide Waterways" on the flip.
The quintet's first album, Foxheads Stalk This Land, was released in late 1987 to lukewarm response in a U.K. press already tired of the C-86 propaganda, but its inviting mix of jangle pop, hazy psychedelia, inscrutable lyrics, and monster guitar hooks gained Close Lobsters a small but fervent following on the U.S. college radio scene. A follow-up single, "Let's Make Some Plans," came out in early 1988; this new song and four other excellent tracks were collected by Close Lobsters' American label, Enigma Records, and released as the EP What Is There to Smile About? in the summer of 1988. Simple and direct, without a wasted note, it's probably the best Close Lobsters release. For the U.K. fans, Strange Fruit released Close Lobsters' four-song Janice Long Session from July 1986, including the A-sides of the first two singles, the B-side "Nothing Really Matters," and "Pathetic Trivia," which would be reworked as "Pathetique" on Foxheads Stalk This Land.
Close Lobsters' second full album, Headache Rhetoric, was released in March 1989. Darker and less immediately accessible than either of the band's previous releases, with a druggily psychedelic vibe akin to Love's best work, it's the sort of album that takes a while to sink in but packs a mighty wallop once it does. Unfortunately, it sank almost without trace in the U.K., and Enigma Records by this time was undergoing the financial problems that would cause it to fold within the year, so the label was unable to capitalize on the group's cult success in the States. After a final EP, Nature Thing, with appropriate covers of Neil Young's "Hey Hey My My (Into the Black)" and Leonard Cohen's "Paper Thin Hotel" on the flip, was released in the spring of 1989, Close Lobsters quietly called it a day.
In 2012, the original group re-formed to play the second Madrid Popfest, as well as shows in Glasgow and Berlin. The response was favorable and the next year the band played the NYC Popfest and released their first new music since 1989, an EP titled Kunstwerk in Spacetime for the Shelflife label. Their comeback was made complete in 2015 with the release of the career-spanning collection Firestation Towers: 1986-1989, which was issued by Fire Records. The group released sporadic singles over the next few years, and in 2020 they returned with their third album, Post Neo Anti: Arte Povera in the Forest of Symbols. The band worked again with producer John Rivers, who had worked with them on their debut album over 30 years earlier. ~ Stewart Mason