Marine Research – “Queen B” 7”
Where It’s At is Where You Are, 1998
Acquired: End of an Ear, Used, 2008
From the ashes of Heavenly came Marine Research. Actually, Marine Research is basically just Heavenly without drummer Matthew Fletcher, who tragically committed suicide in 1996 (The Hold Steady paid tender tribute to Matthew and the band on the track “We Can Get Together” from their album Heaven is Whenever with the line “He wasn’t just the drummer/He was the singer’s younger brother”). Somehow, Amelia Fletcher soldiered on and though Marine Research’s discography was limited to one LP—1999’s Sounds of the Gulf Stream—and three singles (one a split with Built to Spill, which have I mentioned, is totally wonderful), their more subdued indie pop was a lovely and fitting goodbye to one of the best twee pop bands. If not thee best twee pop band. Amelia Fletcher had a way of singing that was both cute and surprisingly commanding. There wasn’t anything to write off, because like the best twee, all the cute sweet stuff was undercut with a little sadness. Something she could elegantly layer into Heavenly’s songs with real elegance. I could listen to her sing all day long. Anyone can learn to be a great, professional singer, and though many might find Fletcher’s vocals to be a bit plain, a bit normal, a bit nasal, this is the stuff that makes her songs so human and easy to identify with.
“Queen B” is Marine Research’s finest hour and serves as a great little bookend to Heavenly’s absolutely unreal run of singles. Fortunately, Amelia Fletcher is still around and making music with Tender Trap, and while I don’t think she’ll ever recapture the pure pop bliss of Talulah Gosh and Heavenly, there’s something comforting about knowing she’s still out there making music (and based on the clips I just listened to from Tender Trap’s latest album—2012’s Ten Songs About Girls—her voice is still one of my favorite things on Earth.
B-side, the gorgeously melancholic, "Y.Y.U.B."
Note: For what it’s worth, Austin’s End of an Ear is in my top 3 favorite record stores in the country. Much better than the maybe more acclaimed and known Waterloo!