The kudos heaped upon Jellyfish in the 20 years or so since their demise due to internal tensions are, on the strength of these long-awaited bonus-track bolstered reissues, entirely appropriate.
As far as legacies go, 1990 debut Bellybutton (8⁄10) and 1993 follow-up Spilt Milk (9⁄10) are jaw-droppingly accomplished slices of pop-rock perfection – honeyed harmonies, subversively witty lyrics and superb musicianship make these must-haves for anyone who cherishes sublime songwriting.
Using The Beatles, Wings, Queen, ELO and The Beach Boys as a springboard, Bellybutton – featuring keystone tunes The King Is Half-Undressed, Bedspring Kiss and Baby’s Coming Back – is nigh-on faultless. That makes the sprawling ambition of Spilt Milk all the more astonishing. Its intricately lush, detailed Pet Sounds-esque production and songs such as Sebrina, Paste & Plato, The Ghost At Number One and New Mistake rendered it a stone-cold classic that would utterly fail to set the charts alight.
Normally, bonus tracks are throwaway extras, but such was the band’s vision and skill that the 51 live versions and demos spread across these deluxe reissues – many culled from the long unavailable Fan Club box set – are pretty much all worthwhile.
Such is the level of care taken with the demos, including numbers never included on Bellybutton or Spilt Milk, that many would pass for finished songs from any other band. Just listen to these two crackers back to back and shed a tear for what might have been./o:p