King Adora arrived before quickly vanishing completely, a standout cameo in a really shit film. Though they’re gone, Vibrate You is still here, always somewhere close to me. Hands up if you form emotional connections with albums? 2001 was a strange time which demanded strange music made by odd people. I knew I wanted to write stories, publish books, but I didn’t know how to do it. An asexual working class man wanting his books to appear in the front window of Borders was as realistic an ambition as cartwheeling on the surface of the moon. The Glasgow College of Building and Printing offered a way out, a path towards writing via their new Journalism course. Every day, a new bus ride into Glasgow and a new album for my Sony CD Walkman. Some journeys were much better than others. I discovered King Adora through an interview on Planet Sound, the much missed Teletext service on Channel 4. Bright text on a black screen had a magical effect on selling new bands to me. In competition with my friends over new musical discoveries, I opted for Andrew WK over Ryan Adams, if only because Planet Sound declared he would be the next big thing in a long line of Next Big Things. In hindsight, the right choice. Gay Dad were one of the rare failures.
King Adora were never going to be a hugely successful mainstream band, but they weren’t for everyone – they were for me and all the strange people who delighted in our own sense of outsiderdom. Anyway, after reading their interview, I headed into Virgin Megastore and bought Vibrate You, the cover of which depicted a large eye staring away to the side, eyelashes caked in thick colourful makeup. Yes, I thought. This is mine. The music was as bright as the photograph: serrated guitar riffs and snarled, strangulated vocals singing pop songs about anorexia, youth, rebellion against normality – that sort of thing. Listening on the way home, I swooned on the seat. You find yourself through music and literature. I was halfway there (and halfway between Glasgow and Cumbernauld).
Looking back with adult eyes, cataracts included, Vibrate You lasted longer than the band, whose second album completely passed me by. I bought it years later, enjoying it for a while, but in no way could it compete with Vibrate You. Bionic, Smoulder, Big Isn’t Beautiful: the first three tracks are a supremely strong opening to an album, or potentially one of the best EPs ever. This was a band you had to search for. They weren’t on television often, and sometimes you’d hear them on the radio (thank you, Steve Lamacq), but like all my favourite bands, King Adora felt like a secret only a few of us knew about, the definition of a cult group. They belong with all the bands I wanted to love forever, but got only a small taste of their potential. Bands like Miss Black America, A.R.E. Weapons, and Good Books. Vibrate You eventually made it from CD to my iPod, which is where it lives today, waiting to be called upon with the swipe of a forefinger. It’ll be on the next iPod too, moving on with me through the years. Some albums outlive the bands that made them, staying with fans who needed those songs – and still do.