The Fatima Mansions

Recently, I decided to relisten to all that has been produced by the High Llamas, a band I remembered mostly as being on my periphery when I was a kid; they were an RIYL Lemon Jelly, Stereolab, and Cornelius group that I knew in passing. Then, I was more drawn to the more treacly sugar rush I'd get from the Apples in Stereo and Beulah.

That trip through their catalog led me back to Microdisney, frontman Sean O'Hagan's first outfit, which I yet again tried to lock into and yet again couldn't quite. From Microdisney I stumbled into Fatima Mansions, the artier, rockier project O'Hagan's other half in Microdisney, Cathal Coughlan, commenced once they parted company.

They flirted with success, touring with U2 and making their way to the U.K. charts several times, but they ultimately remained pretty indie, and history hasn't done much to remember them. A shame.

They certainly always kept you guessing, flipping between more accessible sounds that are of a piece with XTC's intellectual synth pop, as with the chilling yet hummable "The Door-to-Door Inspector," and more unrestrained rockers that evoke contemporaries like Jon Spencer, as with "Look What I Stole For Us, Darling."