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POP MUSIC REVIEW : Swayable Sundays at the Palace

March 22, 1993|STEVE HOCHMAN

Given the low-key nature of the Sundays' music, it was surprising to see the outpouring of adoration for the English quartet at the Palace on Saturday. The way the mostly young fans screamed and squealed, you'd have thought singer Harriet Wheeler was a female Morrissey or something.

To some extent there is a Morrissey-like quality to Wheeler's meandering, floating vocals and the band's airy guitar-bass-drums atmospheres, but not once during the show did she exhibit the charisma or vulnerability of Morrissey.

There is, though, a clear attractiveness to the tiny singer and her Kewpie (but, thankfully, never cutesy) voice, which at times resembles that of the Cocteau Twins' Elizabeth Fraser. Always keeping that voice as the central focus, the group wisely stuck pretty much to its most upbeat, dynamic numbers on this first of two nights at the Palace; nothing exactly danceable, but everything nicely swayable.

Still, the songs all sounded the same (especially since the band's intriguing version of the Stones' "Wild Horses" was left out) and the group's total lack of physical dynamics dragged things down. The crowd's response may have been overwhelming, but the performance was ultimately underwhelming.

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