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The Boo Radleys 

Find the Way Out (Sanctuary)

As this best-of compilation attests, the Boo Radleys were one of the first bands to realize that there wasn't much difference between the sludge of Dinosaur Jr. and the white noise of My Bloody Valentine (at least in 1989). The group made its name by infusing the post-Loveless world with explorations that were part Lee Perry dub experiments and part Smokey Robinson soul-pop nuggets.

As the Boos came into the '90s, they were flanked by other English groups caught up in shoegazing. The increasingly baroque songs on '92's Everything's Alright Forever and '93's Giant Steps failed to find an audience; much of this output included moments of toe-curling weirdness that went beyond post-rave, Ecstasy-fueled bliss. That said, tracks like "Lazy Day," "Does This Hurt?", and "Lazarus" were perfectly sculpted fragments of lysergic pop. Wake Up, released in '95, went pure bliss -- adding horns and losing the feedback. The result was No. 1 hits, plenty of drugs, and, ultimately, creative burnout, as evidenced by the aggressive C'mon Kids in '96 and the watered-down Kingsize in '98. On Find the Way Out, Sanctuary chronicles the group's ascension from acid-fried pop fiends to top-ranking U.K. chart stars, and then its descent in a spiral of alienation and spiritless songwriting. It's an exhilarating ride.

More by Jon Pruett

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