Various Artists – The Matinee Hit Parade

Various Artists
The Matinee Hit Parade

There are few labels as reliable and enjoyable as Matinee Recordings. Release after release – from full-length to EP to single – Matinee offers the absolute best of indie pop, spanning the vastness that genre contains (and spanning the globe as well) while never straying too far from the simple truth that a pop song should be sweet and pretty and bright.

To celebrate a decade of brilliant pop, Matinee offers a nearly perfect compilation album that is a showcase of what this label is all about. Matinee requested new tracks from these bands, resulting in what it describes as 13 45-caliber, A-side originals, and so it’s fitting the CD looks like a 45. Because that’s how this kind of band is best enjoyed: in a 2:30 pop nugget. You have nine new tracks from Matinee standard bands plus four songs from new bands to the label, and you get bits of pop from America, Scotland, England, Australia, Sweden, Germany, and more.

Math and Physics Club offer a melancholy, acoustic “A Little Romance” that’s brilliant in its light and chiming nature. My favorite Matinee band, The Lucksmiths, turn out another typically brilliant track, showcasing its upbeat pop sound with “Good Light.” This band makes it sound so effortless. Echoed vocals behind light and chiming guitars highlight the starkly lovely “My Only Inspiration” by The Electric Pop Group,” and I’m greatly impressed by the gorgeous “Failure” from Germany and Finland’s Clay Hips.

The Hermit Crabs offer pleasant female-fronted pop, simple and light, with “Sophia.” Harper Lee’s “Ilene,” (ending a trilogy of name-theme songs in a row) feels more lushly produced by comparison. This song feels melancholy and deeply introspective, and the swirling ambient nature makes this my favorite on the album. There’s a more rocking and upbeat nature to “Summershine” from Strawberry Whiplash, showing off how diverse this genre can be. The longest track here is “Train from Wycombe” by The Pines, an absolute gem of a track, sweet and startling in its beauty. And Lovejoy close things off with the spacey “Astronauts,” showcasing the more electronic nature of the genre.

Either you’re a fan of Matinee Recordings and this brand of blissful indie-pop or you’re not. This compilation probably won’t win you over. But for those who like light drums, chiming guitars, gorgeous vocals, and light, airy production to your pop, you won’t find any better. These are the best bands in the genre on the best label, offering up wonderful new tracks to commemorate a brilliant run. That makes The Matinee Hit Parade a true gift.