With Stamp Collecting (for Beginners), indie upstart label Secret Crush has compiled some of the best (and sometimes, most forgettable) under-the-radar indie pop. It has 20 bands from as close as New York (the Alps, Baskervilles) and as far as Brazil (Grape Storms). Given the bands’ diverse origins, it’s intriguing that each band’s sound is reminiscent of ’80s and ’90s British pop. Johnny Marr’s guitar can be heard in standout tracks, such as the Alps’ “Loving the Letdown,” and the vocals even hint at a Morrissey fixation. The lush pop melodies of Finland’s Since November are a highlight; their “Come Together” recalls a lost track from the Stone Roses catalogue.
As with most comps, some hit, and others miss completely. “Ball Games” by Ultrasport is so outlandishly cutesy sweet you’ll toss your lunch. Even a few of these acts are going for the chamber pop of Belle and Sebastian, but lacking any of B&S’s dry wit, they come across flaky. Nevertheless, this is a strong sampler of some great pop that will introduce these no-names to the masses and boost a label that, hopefully, produces some gems.