They say you only regret the things you never did. Apart from incest and Morris Dancing (laughter). That’s obviously untrue and these songs are here to prove it. What manner of regrets do alternative songs like to dwell on?
Infidelity: A little bit of what you fancy doesn’t do you any good at all. (Anyone Can Make a Mistake). And thus began The Wedding Present’s endless analysis of relationship regret.
Past glories: Nothing seems as pretty as the past though, that Bloody Mary's lacking in Tabasco. (Fluorescent Adolescent). The Arctic Monkeys’ examination of the bride for whom the freedom years have metamorphosed into a sad pastiche of young love. Shades of Too Much, Too Young by The Specials.
Married in haste: Short love, with a long divorce; and a couple of kids, of course. (Trailer Trash). A peak for 90s U.S. indie was Modest Mouse’s Lonesome Crowded West album, and this may very well be the best track on it. A sad, clear-eyed elegy for all the trailer park unions that end with the mumbled apology - “sorry if I dissed you”.
The lost love: Deep down I’m lonely and I miss my friend. (Dive For Your Memory). Bands are not conducive to long term relationships, whether you’re in the same group, as Robert Forster and Linda Morrison of The Go Betweens were, or always on the road when your partner’s at home - see nearly everyone else.
Stupid male pride: I tried to laugh about it, hiding the tears in my eyes. (Boys Don’t Cry). Though Robert Smith of The Cure also acknowledges that it’s too late anyway - “thought that you needed me more”.
The passage of time: I can’t believe how long it’s been. I don’t know what to do about it. (Too Much In Between). The answer’s probably easy if you’ve lost touch. Get back in touch. But wonderful, delicate song from Nina Nastassia with just a hint of dissonance in the guitar work to represent the sad dilemma.
A national error: The Great British mistake was looking for a way out. When will it be over? How can they avoid it? (The Great British Mistake). The Adverts are not often recognised as a band ahead of their time, but this does seem like a clear case of pre-cognition.
Anyone can make a mistake, The Wedding Present
Fluorescent adolescent, The Arctic Monkeys
Trailer trash, Modest Mouse
These days, Nico
Dive for your memory, Go Betweens
Boys don’t cry, The Cure
Every little gesture, Hefner
Today is the day, Yo La Tengo
Lonesome tears, Beck
Great British mistake, The Adverts
Title and Registration, Death Cab for Cutie
Too much in between, Nina Nastassia
All my life, Evan Dando