Esben and The Witch, I Was A King, Jeff and the Brotherhood, Die! Die! Die!, Friendship - TOO PURE SINGLES CLUB 2010

Tiffany Daniels 22/03/2010

Too Pure were established back in 1990 - the recorded result of a successful collaboration at Hampstead's White Horse, their first release of the same year was fittingly titled Now That's Disgusting Music - Live at the Sausage Machine, and included tracks by Silverfish, Honey Smugglers and Snuff.

Over the following two decades the label strived to provide Britain and the rest of the world with what they, and a devoted fanbase, perceived to be innovative and underexposed talent; their mission saw founders Richard Roberts and Paul Cox release music by the likes of PJ Harvey, Electrelane, Stereolab and Scout Niblett. However, under increasing financial pressure, in 2008 the brand was forced to hand over its assets and signees to sister label 4AD, who also operate under Beggars Group USA.

To many it seemed the conclusive end to a long and sometimes prosperous run, yet miraculously in 2009 Too Pure announced a reformation, with Paul Riddlesworth at the head of proceedings. By all accounts, their Singles Club 2009 was a cause for celebration - the company quickly reasserted their superiority in finding worthy unsigned artists and a percentage of the nation was introduced to the likes of Francois, Peggy Sue, Three Trapped Tigers, Skeletons and Tape the Radio via a monthly release scheme.

As with last year's subscription, the 7” singles put out through TPSC 2010 are limited to 500 copies each and can be purchased for 35 to any UK buyer, and 40 to any international. What's more, this year fans can buy each item individually, which has already caused a sell out of February's offering, Esben & the Witch's Lucia and the Precipice:

E&TW's single is a spiralling dedication to Goth and experimental, as is typical of 2009's 33 EP. The difference here is the addition of vocals by keyboardist Thomas Fisher, who also contributes his voice to b-side “They Use Smiles to Bury You”. The new dimension adds to the warped atmosphere and almost apocalyptic imagery well and, given the menacing lullaby charm of the two tracks, it's utterly unsurprising that frontwoman Rachael Davies once considered herself a white witch.

January's release, I Was A King's Not Like This is an all-together different affair. Diving straight into fuzzed and trashed reverberations, the single dedicates itself to 1990's bands such as Teenage Fanclub and My Bloody Valentine. Although enjoyable it's largely uninspiring - particularly damning considering it has been chosen as the propeller for the rest of the year. Despite its accomplished melody, in light of its co-conspirators, it comes off as hastily chosen filler.

Jeff and the Brotherhood are March's release, and they continue the 90's inspired grunge pop theme. However, unlike the Norway band preceding them, the Tennessee duo's U Got the Look entangles itself in near punk riffs and vocals and, at 2:52, demonstrates everything that was right about traditional radio play format; it fulfils its purpose, and leaves the listener yearning for more. Lucky then, that b-side “The Tropics” is another nugget of laden gold.

In April, Too Pure offer a Die! Die! Die!/Friendship split. I came across the first band back in 2005 when they released single “Ashtray! Ashtray!” and for that reason their inclusion in this singles club, which supposedly supports new music, seems a little odd, but welcome nevertheless. Equally, London's Friendship are a name not unfamiliar to me, but their calypso slacker rock nicely slots in with Too Pure's demographic and is more than appreciated.

So far this year, rather than looking to the future as promised, with the exception of E&TW, Too Pure embrace styles past. With an understandable but still extortionate subscription price, you have to ask whether followers are getting their money's worth baring the quality of these 7”s in mind. It seems to me that, with the recent option to buy each single separately, listeners may as well save their pennies to purchase known and trusted artists, rather than chipping in for the whole shebang. There are definitely consistency issues.