Formed in Surrey, England, in 1987 by principal songwriter Robert Wratten (guitar and vocals) and Michael Hiscock (bass) and a drum machine, The Field Mice linked up with Bristol-based Sarah Records for a series of records which unwittingly pigeon-holed both band and label as exponents of whimsical, jangly, sensitive pop songs.
The lineup was expanded by the arrival of label-mate Harvey Williams (guitar), who had previously worked under the name Another Sunny Day.
Their debut 10″ mini-album, Snowball (1989), reached #3 on the UK indie album chart and the band developed a small but fanatical following that spread as far as Japan by virtue of gently struck acoustic guitars and lyrics of the decidedly lovelorn variety.
The prejudice of the music business ensured The Field Mice remained condemned to the alternative peripheries with the “wimpy jangle” tag, even though the band were furthering their eclectic tastes by developing a penchant for danceable electronics (Triangle) and experimental noise (Humblebee). And this was despite contemporary dance outfit Saint Etienne taking The Field Mice into the nation’s clubs by covering their Let’s Kiss and Make Up single.
In 1990, the trio became a quintet with the arrival of Anne Mari Davies (guitar and keyboards) and Mark Dobson (drums).
Having previously only released material on 7-inch and mini-albums, the group finally released their first full album – Coastal – in 1991. For Keeps (1991) was a more mature collection that promised much in the future.
But after the release of the acclaimed Missing The Moon single, the band’s frustrating reluctance to project a potentially rewarding higher profile – coupled with a growing estrangement with their label – led to the group dissolving in November 1991.
Wratten, Davies and Dobson formed the dream pop group Northern Picture Library which won critical acclaim but suffered from poor sales were poor. Personal problems in the band also made touring difficult. Wratten later went on to form Trembling Blue Stars with Davies also joining the group in a later incarnation.
Anne Mari Davies