REPORTEDLY, Barbarians is Richard Davies' swan song. He's quitting music to practice law--thus concluding an artistically fertile, but financially null music career. This fact says reams about the fucked up state of a music industry that would let such uncompromising brilliance go to waste in a law office, while foisting rafts of shit on the public week after dismal week in the name of music.

Davies was first ignored in 1991, when his band The Moles came on like a bunch of drunken intellectuals. On their recently reissued first album, Untune the Sky, they were capable of collapsing into an unfettered scrap heap of noise, while at the same time being shimmeringly tuneful. From the opening track, "Bury Me Happy," Untune the Sky lurches into a kind of Sgt. Pepper's-deconstruct mode that still sounds new, and was light-years ahead of the time's grimly REM-saturated landscape. Davies' weird lyrics and pop sense strove to undo themselves in glorious songs like "Tendrils and Paracetomol," a shambles of broken words and fragmented song structures. While Barbarians lacks the daring of the Moles, it glimmers confidently with offerings like "Palo Alto" and "Stars," which showcase Davies' unparalleled songwriting abilities.

In the liner notes, Davies calls Untune the Sky "a compressed power punch of some answers to the eternal questions of youth." I call the Moles the most underrated band of the '90s, and the release of their brief but seminal output a cause for unalloyed joy.