February 26 — “Atta Girl” by Heavenly


If you only listen to one song today, make it “Space Manatee” by Heavenly (1993, from the EP P.U.N.K. Girl).

Heavenly was a twee band from Oxford, England in the early- to mid-1990s. They’re not to be confused with a French metal band of the same name. They spun off of another twee band called Talulah Gosh, and put out four proper albums in a five year span.

When you’re talking about Heavenly, you’re really talking about frontwoman Amelia Fletcher. Her brother Matthew (drums) her partner and babydaddy Robert Pursey (bass), Peter Nomtchiloff (guitar), and Cathy Rogers (keys, vocals) rounded out the band. Just before Operation Heavenly was released in 1996, Matthew committed suicide and the band retired the name “Heavenly”. After a pause, they continued as Marine Research. That band released one album (Sounds from The Gulf Stream, 1999).

If you look up “twee pop” in the dictionary, you’ll see something like “English pop music with jangly guitars, themes of unrequited love and sadness. Usually female fronted. Part punk, part pop”. You’ll also see a picture of Heavenly.

This is, one of the many bands that I fell in love with when I was extremely active with the college radio station. I didn’t stop listening to them when I got out of that scene. Neither should you.

I’d much rather post audio than video, but here’s the audio of today’s song in video form:

“Atta Girl” by Heavenly

I love it. This is, but isn’t about unrequited love. Cathy sings the first part, which is sort of about unrequited love. Amelia sings the second part, which is more about being smothered by a suitor.

I could never live up to all your dreams
I don’t have to be cute right through
And can’t you concentrate on something other than me
Coz I’m not yours and never will be now
You’ve shown me how you are if I speak to another

I don’t need you or your attitude
and can’t you just forget now that you ever knew me

It’s pretty brutal, and it’s pretty amazing. It’s punk rawk.

One of the things that made Heavenly so great is that although they were on the K Records label and they were fiercely devoted to the DIY ideal, and they worked closely with Calvin Johnson of Beat Happening (all things that would suggest that they didn’t care about craftsmanship), they had keen interest in making well-made records. They were good enough musicians. Amelia and Cathy were good enough singers. They also took their time making records. They took the time to get things right, and it shows. That’s a bit of a rarity in the twee scene. A lot of “twee” records sound like they were recorded live, in one take.

I think this is one of the best songs that this band ever made, and it’s one of the most sophisticated. Even if it is about base human emotion. While most of their songs are, in some way, about love or lack of same, this one has better musical and lyrical construction than most. The production on this isn’t as lush as it is on their last two proper records, but it’s such a good song that I’ll forgive them for that.

I wish I could say that the Bettie Serveert song and album Attagirl were named after this song, but that would be a lie.

The physical format of P.U.N.K. Girl is out of print, but you can get a digital download from the K Records site here.

About dlee

North Carolina born and bred. I'm a restaurant guy who spends free time listening to music, watching hockey and playing Scrabble. I have a bachelor's degree in political science and I will most likely never put it to use. View all posts by dlee

3 responses to “February 26 — “Atta Girl” by Heavenly

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