Twee pop fans breathed a sigh of relief when Backwash, a collection that gathered together everything that Talulah Gosh recorded in their brief life, finally emerged in 1996, ten years after the band split. The album, given its completist nature, does occasionally feel a little haphazard, for example in its inclusion of both the single and the John Peel session version of their signature song Talulah Gosh, but there is remarkably little filler.
Lead singer Amelia Fletcher’s breathy, girlish and occasionally out of tune vocals may not be to everybody’s taste, but somehow they seem to blend well with the stacatto guitar bursts. “How I wish he would be mine / He looks so neat, he looks so fine ” asserts Fletcher in opener Beatnik Boy, turning her back on standard English grammar in favour of a decent melody.
All of the songs clock in at under 3:30, but the hooks are plentiful – just crammed into a smaller time which makes most songs race along. Given the album’s breathless nature, the spacey, effects-laden Just a Dream and Escalator Over The Hill are highlights and veer into more traditional post-punk territory. I Can’t Get No Satisfaction (Thank God) has nothing to do with Mick Jagger, but is terrific in itself. “Some of my best friends are bastards like you / At least they’re not neurotics, too” Fletcher sings, but so sweetly you’d think she was singing about a lovely day out at the park.
The hit, though is “Talulah Gosh”, a meandering song which starts as if it were a Jesus and Mary Chain song but builds into a memorable chorus of “Talulah Gosh was a film star for a day / Talulah Gosh was a top celebrity / You can lie to everyone / But please, please don’t lie to me.” The character of Talulah Gosh is apparently based on actress and singer Claire Grogan, who enjoyed success with Gregory’s Girl among other films. Although the whole album is very listenable, this is by far the standout track.