Led by vocalist Sonya Aurora Madan, Echobelly fused the ironic, self-absorbed viewpoint of the Smiths with stylish Blondie posturing and a solid guitar crunch. Defiantly politically correct, the group cultivated a fair amount of praise within the British press at the beginning of their career, but as the Brit-pop craze of the mid-'90s wore on, the group was slowly eclipsed by such contemporaries as Elastica and Sleeper. Nevertheless, Echobelly earned a dedicated cult following in the U.S. and U.K., as well as a devoted fan base within Japan.
Madan formed Echobelly circa 1992 with Glenn Johansson (guitar), Debbie Smith (guitar), Alex Keyser (bass), and Andy Henderson (drums). The group's first single, "Bellyache," was released in late 1993 to positive reviews from the U.K. weekly music press and managed to debut at number 15 on the indie charts. By early 1994, they broke the Top 40 with "I Can't Imagine the World Without Me." Everybody's Got One, the band's debut album, was released in the fall of 1994 to positive reviews and strong sales within the U.K.; it was released in the U.S. in the spring of 1995 to little attention.
By the summer of 1995, British indie guitar music had overtaken the pop consciousness, and Echobelly were poised to break into the mainstream. Though the band was plagued by some behind-the-scenes problems -- bassist Alex Keyser was replaced by James Harris after the recording of their second album, On -- they didn't quite manage to make the leap. "Great Things," the first single from On, entered the charts at number 13, but each subsequent single, and the album itself, didn't fare as well. Nevertheless, the group retained a strong following within Japan over the course of 1995, where they were considered superstars. In 1997, Echobelly issued Lustra. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine