Song of the Day: The Sundays – “Can’t Be Sure”

Liz Fox Recalls: Best known in the United States for the single “Here’s Where the Story Ends,” indie darlings the Sundays offer a combination of lush vocals, jangly Johnny Marr-esque guitar riffs, and the perfect dash of lyrical sensibility. The 1990 album Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic was a critical and creative success, but subsequent releases reaped less praise and led to a lengthy hiatus by the end of the decade.

“Can’t Be Sure,” the album’s first single, was released in 1989 and reads as a catchy but ambivalent testament to ambiguity. Since it’s the perfect soundtrack for a twentysomething going through her obligatory quarter-life crisis, I hold this song in high regard, and its melancholy chorus (paired with Harriet Wheeler’s distinctive vocals) offer soothing relief for emotional complication. Personal context aside, it’s also a wonderfully composed pop song and, unlike many of the group’s colleagues, transcends dated musical patterns and norms.

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