best jangle pop songs

15 of the Best Jangle Pop Songs Ever

With its soaring harmonies, chiming guitars, and generally sunny motif, one has to be dead or in jail not to get a rush out of jangle pop.

8. Young Guv – “Livin’ the Dream” (2015)

Given how frustratingly inconsistent Ben Cook’s output as Young Guv can be, his 2015 debut Ripe 4 Luv set the template for what he does best – sweet, irresistible jangle pop with muscle. This magnificent near-anthem veers from power-pop to jangle pop and back again, wrapping up with a soaring OH YEAHHH! crescendo like every great song should. Once “Livin’ the Dream” wins you over, 2022’s Guv III is also a must-own.

7. The Primitives – “Haunted” (1991)

Prime-era Primitives had a fantastic run, mixing cheery, twee-ish early 1990s guitar pop with a dark Velvet Underground crosscurrent. It’s scary-easy to fall in love with Tracy Tracy’s laconic yet insistent harmonies, showcased to full effect on “Haunted”. Backed by the swirling jangle of Paul Court’s layered guitars, this sonic high-wire act plays like priceless china teetering on a high shelf, just waiting to drop.

6. Cosmic Rough Riders – “Universal Thing” (2002)

Daniel Wylie and Stephen Fleming may hail from Glasgow, not Southern California; they began recording together in the late 1990s, not the late 1960s. But try hearing “Universal Thing” without wanting to wax up your board, drop the top on the 1967 Mustang, and cruise the PCH back when it really meant something. The lovestruck mood wrought by this sunshiny track is downright eerie and probably the high point of the Cosmic Rough Riders’ already sterling catalog. Surf’s up, dudes!

5. The Three O’Clock – “I Go Wild” (1983)

Every fan of obscure indie rock seems to go through a Michael Quercio phase, either directly or by association. His band, the Three O’Clock, were by all rights a neo-psych act, more along the lines of a dynamic Rain Parade than the Raspberries. But “I Go Wild’s” three-minute convulsion of power-pop zest surprises the listener every time, from its swinging opening riff to those exuberant Ray Manzarek “Light My Fire” calliope keyboards during the bridge. Cue up this bouncy little firecracker and just try to sit still.

4. The Church – “Tear It All Away” (1981)

The Church‘s debut Of Skins and Heart is justly considered a landmark of off-kilter 1980s college rock. But aside from Aussie classic “The Unguarded Moment”, the twin singles tacked onto the Arista CD honestly eclipse the rest of the album. The feathery “Tear It All Away” highlights Peter Koppes’ and Marty Willson-Piper’s uncanny binary-guitar interface, seemingly impossible for two separate human beings to achieve. The Church would later veer into potent psychedelia, but jangle fans will insist they never sounded better than this.

3. The La’s – “There She Goes” (1990)

Okay, so the entire world knows this one, and every cell in my music-snob body militates against including it. But “There She Goes” is just too darn fantastic to ignore. Forget the awful cover versions or naïve critics too blinkered to realize that Lee Mavers was singing about heroin, not women. (“Pulsing through my veins”? “No one else can heal my pain”? Wake up, people!) That timeless opening riff plunges you right back into the beating heart of college rock’s golden era, circa 1983-1995. The rest of their debut is frightfully overrated (sorry), and the La’s soon imploded over Mavers’ mental and substance issues. But even this pompous, self-absorbed critic cannot praise “There She Goes” enough.

2. Kirsty MacColl – “He’s on the Beach” (1985)

What more can be said about this mellifluous angel, taken from us far too soon? Those gorgeous layered vocals lift her covers of Billy Bragg and the Smiths above their own versions. But this original composition, written with Gavin Povey, might be her finest moment. In typical pop-chart fashion, “He’s on the Beach” didn’t even crack the UK Top 100. So listen to this sun-drenched ode to absent friends, and abandon all faith in popular music taste.

1. The Stone Roses – “Mersey Paradise” (1989)

One might think ‘Greatest Jangle Song Ever’ would prove a challenging decision. But this marvelous burst of British delight – a B-side single, not even considered good enough to make the Stone Roses‘ iconic debut – seized that mantle upon its first release. Imagine a world where chiming guitars become a carnival roller-coaster, rising and plunging every two seconds. That’s “Mersey Paradise”, alongside singer Ian Brown‘s creepy tales of drowning and dark black pits. Utterly irresistible.