The Irish outfit Microdisney derived its paradoxical power from the distinct visions of its two frontmen, vocalist Cathal Coughlan -- a dark, brooding lyricist given to angst-ridden, incendiary wordplay -- and guitarist Sean O'Hagan, a gifted composer of atmospheric, seductive pop fare. Formed in Cork in 1980, the group went through a series of line-up changes and approaches before settling on the core duo of Coughlan and O'Hagan as well as bassist Mick Lynch and drummer Rob Mackahey. In 1982, Microdisney released its first singles, including "Helicopter of the Holy Ghost," the first of many songs which grappled with Coughlan's obsession with the Irish Catholic church.
Around the time the group released its full-length debut Everybody's Fantastic, Coughlan and O'Hagan relocated to London, where they recruited new bassist Ed Flesh and drummer Tom Fenner. In 1984, they also issued a compilation of early singles titled We Hate You South African B**tards! With 1985's The Clock Came Down the Stairs, Microdisney won not only significant critical acclaim but also the patronage of influential DJ John Peel. In addition, they earned a contract with Virgin Records; their first single for the label, "Town to Town," nearly reached the U.K. Top 50.
After the 1987 album Crooked Mile (recorded with new bassist Steve Pregnant and keyboardist James Compton), Microdisney released the single "Singer's Hampstead Home," a vicious attack on labelmate (and admitted heroin addict) Boy George. When 1988's 39 Minutes failed to elevate their commerical fortunes, Microdisney called it quits. While Coughlan brought his intensity to the Fatima Mansions, O'Hagan followed his pop muse to form the Beach Boys-inspired High Llamas; he also worked frequently with Stereolab and Will Oldham's ever-shifting Palace Music. ~ Jason Ankeny