Miss Fliss 06/04/2008

In Fierce Panda Records' heady halcyon 1990s days of proper (n)indie, one gem of a band always outshone the rest of the roster for me. The beautiful underdog that is Pullover put out 3 absolutely perfect 7 inches on the label: This is the Life, White Horses and Shooting Stars, and Holiday all cavorted with delicious pop melody, intermingling with sad-tinged lyrics of love impossible or lost, self-cynicism, or clinging onto dreamy hopes of the ideal life.

Pullover's succinct ouvre - with b-sides of equal weighty worth - adorned my record deck for years to come and I often lamented their transience. A band this shimmeringly, blisteringly, blustersomely spot-on enters one's life as fleetingly as can a lover, and how I clung to those precious vinyls; this was personal; Pullover were my little secret. And don't we all love to treasure certain bands as our own clandestine find, songs that are so us, a band cheated and spurned by the public whilst their Panda contemporaries so ordinary such as Embrace, Ash or The Bluetones shot to Top of the Pops fame - and so there was something wholly romantic about Pullover's immense and momentous pop prettiness being glossed over; brakes screeched to a halt; lost to the annals of time for good.

Until one day, I looked up Pullover on Myspace, hopefully. They were back! 10 years on, this lovely low-key indie outfit are active and creative all over again. And the new songs are in top gear. Souvenir, for one, is as gargantuan of tune, hard-hitting bittersweet, and thoughtful of pop structure and lyrical conjecture as ever. Could this time be for keeps? So many years of missing them, never having seen them live because ever so slightly too young, and so many times spent whizzing around the living room to the lively likes of Holiday with its sunny delight and breezy belief, and all those whispers of do-you-remembers? in indie company, or mixtape capers to spread the impassioned word. And, of course, Google searches were fruitless frustrations, throwing up only spreads of knitwear for sale.

After six months of promise, a duo of Pullover gigs were announced. The giddy thrill of the news carried through and as we raced to East London's Gramaphone venue, I was still all of a fervour and edgy inside until the band took to the stage. It hardly seemed real in vision or sonics.

I organised my holiday around this gig, making sure I'd return from Spain in good time to be able to attend. Post-holiday blues (snow replacing azure skies and 35 degree heatwaves!) were soothed by the balm of Pullover. Guitars glittered as they ever did, all instruments and vocals gelling so lucidly right. In the presence of 20 people - quite a few of them friends of the band - the gig seemed criminal. I wanted it to be 1996 and full of appreciative indie kids, supping cider excitedly on sticky floors. Those were the times when virtually every single song on national evening radio was an indie classic and there were hundreds of tiny bands to pour your heart and soul into.

But, as Pullover so often remind us in their despondent lyrics, life just isn't like that. Pullover are still too good for us. Kids want their skinny-jeaned, peacock-haired, male indie and only the precious few will actually make the effort to get and appreciate Pullover. Yet in her flowing flowery dress and red high heels and lippy, singer Carol Isherwood is every bit a star. Her voice is one of presence, stridence, and conviction so absent in any band from the current crop. There's also plenty of earthy northern commentary, humour and interaction with the crowd tonight, plus a few capers (Carol standing on stage, ringing the mate that has stood her up at the gig, or joking about or berating the lairy men down the front) and I just wish there to be more people to witness the show that the band so kinetically put on.

Sadly, we get none of the solid golden oldie indie singles played tonight, and it's keenly felt, because they have half a dozen should-ve-been instant pop hits to choose from which would have knocked the roof off. But it's a quality gig all the same, and I couldn't be more glad to have Pullover back right now. Moreover, it couldn't be a more necessary time to have them back. These times are truly bereft of proper indie pop with fitful melody and suss; and Pullover are our saviours. Here's to an album, finally!