Although virtually unknown outside of indie rock circles, the Pastels were one of the most inspirational and enduring groups of their era, spearheading a movement towards a renewed sense of wistful musical primitivism and willful naivete known variously as "shambling" and "anorak pop; " in addition, their influence helped bring international notice to a resurgent Scottish musical community, with frontman Stephen Pastel's legendary 53rd and 3rd label helping to launch the careers of bands including the Jesus & Mary Chain, Shop Assistants, BMX Bandits, the Vaselines and the Soup Dragons. Formed in Glasgow, Scotland in 1982, the band initially comprised vocalist/guitarist Pastel (nee McRobbie), guitarist Brian Superstar (born Brian Taylor) and drummer Chris Gordon; they debuted that autumn on the Whaam label with the single "Songs for Children," but Gordon soon exited, the first of many subsequent lineup shuffles.
Ambition was never the Pastels' strong suit, and luck was rarely on their side; as the group's members -- now including bassist Martin Hayward and drummer Bernice Simpson -- devoted their primary focus to their studies, new music appeared only sporadically and to little notice, on a seemingly random series of labels. After 1983's "I Wonder Why" was released on Rough Trade, they moved to Creation, where they hit their stride with the 1984 drone-pop gems "Something's Going On" and "A Million Tears." After one further single, 1985's "I'm Alright With You," the Pastels split with Creation, moving to the tiny Glass label. In 1986, their track "Breaking Lines" appeared on the influential C-86 collection assembled by the New Music Express, transforming the anorak movement into an overnight media sensation quickly accompanied by intense critical backlash.
Regardless of prevailing musical trends, however, the Pastels soldiered on: after recruiting one-time Shop Assistants keyboardist Aggi Wright, they recorded the 1986 single "Truck Train Tractor," followed by Crawl Babies and Comin' Through. Finally, in 1987 the group found time to assemble an LP, Up for a Bit With the Pastels, followed in 1988 by Suck on the Pastels, a collection of unreleased Creation-era material. In 1989, former Vaselines frontman Eugene Kelly and ex-Shop Assistant David Keegan joined the fold for Sittin' Pretty, the final LP to include Superstar, Hayward and Simpson. The remaining duo of Pastel and Wright expanded to include Katrina Mitchell for the 1991 collaboration Jad Fair and the Pastels, followed by the 1994 EP Olympic World of Pastelism; Mobile Safari appeared in 1995. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi