Letters to Cleo – Aurora Gory Alice (1994)

To a British audience, Letters to Cleo are perhaps solely known for their appearance at the end of 10 Things I Hate About You, when they perform a rendition of Cheap Trick’s “I Want You to Want Me” as the spitting image of their more successful peers No Doubt. The resemblance has caused no end of confusion, not leading but certainly contributing to the band’s failure to break European shores. I was victim to this mistake until my teenage self decided it was time to research every single band on the OST - and that’s how, fed up with Napster’s inability to complete a download, I came to import all of Letters to Cleo’s albums in one fell swoop.

Aurora Gory Alice hasn’t always been my favourite album from their back catalogue, but it’s been a consistent mainstay of rock in my collection since the day it came to me in the post. Complete with a tacky inlay and a disc that looks like it was designed for a secondary school project, the release isn’t much to look at. Neither do the bare legs on the front cover, paired with white pumps and a maroon mini, hint at the accessible, yet primal howl found within.

The titles, on the other hand... Opening track “Big Star” says it all – and with “Rim Shake”, “Wasted” and “Come Around” all to follow, I barely have to describe the style of music Letters to Cleo offer here, merely push the track list at you. But for those who really still have no idea what I’m talking about – for a teenage girl who previously revelled and relied on a select few grunge and riot Grrrl bands, it’s basically the best introduction to rock-pop ever. It’s also the closest album I have to classic rock, like The B52s minus the tongue-in-cheek lyrics and with added 90s flare.

There are songs on Aurora Gory Alice that hint at Letters to Cleo’s ska-routes and the radio friendly approach on following album Wholesale Meats and Fish, particularly on “Mellie’s Comin’ Over” and “Here & Now”. Generally though this dives headfirst into a sleazy garage that still accommodates nail polish and the occasional Kirby grip. Without wanting to stereotype, it’s a girly release and not for every DrunkenWerewolf reader – but if you love the fashionable pout of Gwen Stefani and grew up on Cruel Intentions, Clueless et al, then this is for you.

- Tiffany Daniels

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