The Sundays - Reading, Writing and Arithmetic (1990), 8/10

Reading, Writing and Arithmetic is an exceptional debut album from the Sundays that showcases the brilliance of the band, particularly Harriet Wheeler's talent for crafting beautiful arrangements and melodies that perfectly complement the jangle pop sound of the time. While their subsequent album, Blind, has its share of well-written songs, it falls short in comparison to the consistent brilliance of their debut. In contrast, every track on Reading, Writing and Arithmetic is splendidly catchy and gorgeous, forming a cohesive and satisfying listening experience from start to finish; a testament to the band's ability to create captivating music. Harriet Wheeler's vocals are a standout, as her voice is perhaps one of the most beautiful ever recorded in pop music. In "Here's Where the Story Ends," her vocals soar and sway, weaving a beautiful tale that entices us straight away. Wheeler's strength also lies in her storytelling ability, and she delivers with finesse and emotion. "Can't Be Sure" is another highlight, with its wonderful melody and relatable message. Once you've heard the chorus, it's hard not to chant along, making it an instantly memorable and engaging track that makes a significant impression. Similarly, "You're Not the Only One I Know" stands out as one of the most beautiful pop songs you'll ever hear, effortlessly creating a relaxed atmosphere that captivates and lures you into its aura. The band exhibits a remarkable ability to evoke significant emotional impact while maintaining simplicity and groundedness. They achieve a delicate balance between crafting accessible pop tunes and infusing them with depth and sincerity. The exception to this simplicity is "My Finest Hour," a track that takes the you on a journey through a beautiful tale filled with unbridled passion. It stands out as a captivating piece that ignites the imagination and showcases the band's ability to create a perfect dream-like atmosphere. This is certainly a record that encapsulates the brilliance of The Sundays and their respective talents as individuals and as a group. With its enchanting melodies, Harriet Wheeler's mesmerizing vocals, and the band's ability to create emotionally resonant songs, it remains a timeless and captivating piece of jangle pop music and one of the most ravishing dreams that imagination could muster.