1.7.13 — “Hopefulness To Hopelessness” by Marine Research

Marine Research

Marine Research

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Hopefulness to Hopelessness” by Marine Research (1999, from the album Sounds From The Gulf Stream).

Marine Research was a twee/indie band from London and/or Oxford, England who released one album in 1999. They were almost exactly the same band as Heavenly. Heavenly was itself a continuation of the twee band Talulah Gosh, but that’s a different story. In the spring of 1996, Heavenly drummer Matthew Fletcher (who was the brother of frontwoman Amelia Fletcher) committed suicide just prior to the release of Heavenly’s album Operation Heavenly. 1996 was a tough year for fans of “alternative rock”. There was this. The keyboardist from The Charlatans was killed in a car crash. The guy from Sublime overdosed on heroin. The guy from Material Issue committed suicide. Lush drummer Chris Acland hung himself. They were all in the prime of their careers.

After Matthew died, the band took a break to mourn their loss, but they wanted to continue on. However, they didn’t want to call themselves Heavenly anymore. They brought in a new drummer and they re-branded themselves Marine Research. They released one 7″ single, one EP and just the one album.

After that album, backing vocalist and keyboard player Cathy Rogers loft the band to pursue a career in television production. She created (and starred in) a show called Scrapheap Challenge. That show was exported to the US as Junkyard Wars. After Cathy’s departure, Amelia Fletcher, her babydaddy and bassist Rob Pursey, and their new drummer John Stanley formed a new band called Tender Trap.

After all of that biography, the point is that there’s no mistaking that this band is Heavenly. They just didn’t want to be called that anymore.

The whole album is great, and there’s really no way to tell which is Heavenly and which is Marine Research. This is Marine Research.

“Hopefulness to Hopelessness” by Marine Research

I love Cathy’s “Do do do do do” bit, and her overlapping vocals during the choruses.

It’s pretty basic. The narrator is a supreme romantic. Take the second verse for example:

I still want to have a garden with flowers, not mud, in
I still want to learn the art of being rude
I still want to hear you end your half-finished pop songs
I still want to be who I am, but be it with you

Really, though, it’s about the two choruses:

A million reasons for wanting to carry on living to achieve
A million things I am unlikely ever to carry out
But I like the make-believe

and

Hopefulness to hopelessness is not very far, I suppose
Hopefulness to hopelessness is not very far, but don’t go
Never blur the line

So I guess it’s about holding on to that romanticism and idealism.

What’s always drawn me to this song is the two lines

I still want to learn the art of being rude

and

I still want to be who I am, but be it with you

I never really understood the rest of the lyrics until I tracked them down. That very first line is

I still want to have a chart hit. Go to pop parties

and in that same first verse:

I still want to get my hair cut just like Jean Seberg

I had to look it up, and I found that Jean Seberg was a Hollywood-blacklisted actress. Even before her blacklisting, she didn’t have much luck in American films, so she moved to Paris and became a star. She was possibly most known for her role in the Jean-Luc Godard film Breathless. If she’s referring to the short haircut that Seberg had in Breathless, it’s funny because that actually is the haircut that Amelia had.

It’s also a tiny bit of a tip of the hat to the Heavenly song “Ben Sherman”, in which the narrator’s boyfriend wants her to cut her hair like Uma Thurman’s. Really, there’s not many things that are more definitively “twee” than self-reference.

You can buy Sounds From The Gulf Stream from the K Records web shop 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

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