I intentionally ignored Supercar’s albums before Futurama.
Futurama was such a watershed listening experience, I didn’t want to tempt fate by exploring the work that led up to it. Besides, it would be a mighty expensive endeavor to do so.
It wasn’t until the band broke up in 2005 that I felt safe to start exploring the music that came before Futurama. I could live with the expense of a back catalog so long as there were no future catalog to compound it.
Man, have I been missing out.
16/50 was released around the time of Highvision, and it focused exclusively on the albums recorded before Futurama.
I knew Supercar was more of a guitar band in the early days, but as it turns out, electronic beats and effects were part of the band’s modus operandi early on. Futurama was certainly the turning point in Supercar’s writing, but tracks such as "Be", "Sunday People" and "Jump" demonstrated the evolution of that aesthetic.
However much I love Supercar’s latter-day studio wizardry, the quartet has a firm grasp on songcraft from the outset. "cream soda" and "Lucky" were terrific choices for first singles. "Sun Rider", "Summer Time" and "Flicker" make terrific cases for keeping the synthesizers out of the band’s sound, while "Sunday People" makes me glad the band went down the path they eventually forged.
Of course, 16/50 is a best-of collection, after all, and there’s a nagging suspicion that perhaps history is being rewritten. A showcase of the "best" means the not-so best is still waiting to be discovered.
But a compilation as consistently strong as 16/50 — covering four albums in two years — is a remarkable feat. The fact it doesn’t include the subsequent work of equal quality attests to the remarkable talent Supercar possessed.
This band could write tunes and craft albums like nobody’s business. As sad as the news of their break-up was in 2005, Supercar left a tremendous body of work, and 16/50 does a terrific job of showcasing it.