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The Orchids “The Lost Star” – A Hidden Gem that Deserves to be Discovered!

You might be aware that I am a fan of most things Sarah Records. One of the bands I discovered when I first started exploring Sarah Records is Glasgow’s The Orchids. Starting out as just your standard run-of-the-mill jangle pop outfit, they turned into a band that wasn’t afraid to experiment.

Over the course of three albums and six singles on the Sarah Records label, they created some beautiful twee pop, some wonderfully sing-along jangle pop, and some danceable Balearic beats. Throwing on a record by The Orchids is basically listening to the sounds of a band that were having fun and didn’t really have a method to their madness.

1994’s blissed out “Striving For The Lazy Perfection” is a great album full of fun samples and electronic joy that could be the soulmate to Primal Scream‘s classic “Screamadelica”, though in terms of pure enjoyment (that doesn’t rely on the singles), “Striving For The Lazy Perfection” is way more fun. It’s an album you can listen to straight through and by the time the last note chimes you’ll always be wondering where the time went.

Striving For The Lazy Perfection” was the pinnacle of The Orchids‘ recorded output on Sarah Records, showcasing what they were truly capable of when they put their minds to it. Sadly, it was also their last full-length effort for over 10 years.

When Sarah Records closed up shop at the start of the 90s, it seemed like The Orchids had followed suit.

They were definitely a band that should have been much better known. Being mis-labeled as twee indie pop, and being signed to an independent record label that was often derided by the then-current music press certainly didn’t help them, but their own haphazard approach to their career probably also made it unlikely that they would ever get picked up and distributed by a major label. From what I’ve read and heard, Sarah Records was probably the only label that was willing to put up with their malarkey in the early days.

Something must changed during those wilderness years, though. Perhaps they grew up. Maybe they decided to finally get serious about being a professional band. Whatever it was, they came back with “Good to Be a Stranger” in 2007 on Spain’s wonderful Siesta label. Perhaps this was just their way of dipping their toes back in the water, but it was nice to hear some new music from The Orchids even if, musically, it felt like a bit of a step backwards for them. “Good to Be a Stranger” sounds more indie rock than any of their previous offerings and feels like a band trying to once again reorient themselves and choose a way forward, but it was a welcome addition to their discography.

Fast forward three years, and they seem to have spent some time figuring themselves out. In 2010, they came back with a renewed sense of purpose and a definite direction, releasing the first of two singles that would eventually appear on their next album. There was something concrete about them now, a sense of having a map to follow. 2010’s She’s My Girl was full of the promise that The Orchids had finally found their way back to where they wanted to be. The new album, titled “The Lost Star”, was released later that year on Pebble Records and made good on their promise: the band I loved was back!

I had initially bought the album when it came out on CD in 2010, but you know what that’s like: you buy the CD and then you scan though it a few times looking to get a feel for it. With CDs though, because you’re just flipping through the start of each track you’re not actually getting to know the album at all, are you? So, I got the album and though it sounded like it would be nice, I never really sat with it and really listened with focus.

Jump ahead to 2020 and Firestation Records in Germany has released a nice quiet vinyl pressing of this gorgeous unknown gem. First time on vinyl, and beautifully mastered, “The Lost Star” has never sounded better, and has never had a better chance to really shine and connect to an audience.

Listening to it now, I am struck by how lush it sounds. It has a wonderful depth of sound, and has that playful Orchids sense of humor throughout. Songs like Doot Doot (Till It Happens To You….) and The OK Song will get you smiling at their lyrics, but also smiling at that familiar Orchids sound. Just the fact that there is a follow up piece later on the album entitled Doot (It Happened) makes me smile. It’s goofy, earnest, and perfectly captures The Orchids at their best.

The best way I can describe this album is to call it smile pop. Despite some unsettling subject matter (like the heartbreaking Jane Loves Johnny) and some oddly titled tracks (the sample-heavy interlude Scare Young People, which cannibalizes Peaches from 1991’s “Unholy Soul” to great effect) the album feels breezy, hopeful and infectiously joyous.

The Orchids’The Lost Star” has somehow managed to blend some of my favourite sounds of the 70s, 80s and 90s into a gorgeous slice of pop for the 21st century. With a new album having just been released (September 2022’s “Dreaming Kind”… my vinyl copy is still in the post), now is definitely the perfect time to discover, or to revisit this delightful album!

Key tracks are definitely Jenny Loves Johnny, Come Lay Down on My Bed, Les Spectacles De La Foire and The Way that You Move; any of which would have fit nicely on either of the orchids earlier albums “Unholy Soul” or “Striving For The Lazy Perfection” (both now available to purchase digitally or to stream on Bandcamp via Sarah Records‘ Bandcamp page)…. Here is a Bandcamp playlist for you, scroll to the bottom if you prefer Spotify!

 

 

Strangely, all of The Orchids’ Sarah Records material is available via the Sarah Records Bandcamp link, but all of the band’s new material (starting with 2010’s “The Lost Star“) is available on a separate Bandcamp page which seems to be maintained by the band themselves. My best guess would be this is due to rights holders issues.

What do you think? Had you heard of The Orchids before? Are you a fan? I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below!

Have I missed anything? Are there any songs I should have included in our playlist? Drop me a line in the comment section below! Remember to subscribe so that you don’t miss our next monthly (ish) post (We’ll never bother you more than once a month). PLUS! subscribers get a discount on any purchase made from us.

Disclaimer: This is a reviewer-owned album and not supplied by any company. The album is likely available for purchase from wherever you feed your addiction, or you can stream it if you prefer. We have received no remuneration or compensation for anything we have reviewed in this article and the opinions expressed are genuine at the time of publication. We are not affiliated in any way with any of the products or services that may be mentioned in this article. Any suggestions or links are for your convenience only!

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