The Optimist Gallery

The Optimist Gallery: Sam Ellis


I’d like to share my story about the Optimist LP.

It all started 10 years ago, when I heard Underdog (Save Me) on a Reloaded compilation tape. I was obsessed. I was consumed by the slightly odd, yet visceral lyrics, the sometimes nasal, almost feminine yet strangely evocotive vocals, the_incredible_guitar solo towards the end. I wore the tape out rewinding back to that point to listen to the song over and over again.
I had to have more.

And so I bought The Optimist LP, not knowing what to expect. None of my friends had heard of this band, they were still listening to Green Day, The Offspring, all the heavier stuff. I wanted something lighter.

And so, I returned from bunking a Monday afternoon of double Maths from Our Price having spent my lunch money on a copy of The Optimist LP. (I would spend the rest of the week sneaking sandwiches from home for my lunch…)
I sat down in my overcrowded room with my archaic stereo system passed down through many generations and willed it to load the CD. And load it did. From the opening three piano notes I was hooked. I listened to the album twice through, and once again.

Of course, there were songs which didn’t grab me right away, The Door, Emergency 72, but it wasn’t long before their spell was cast and I was under their charm. I had to see this band live, I had to have everything they’d released. Right then.
And so it began, it moved from Ether Song, to Jack in a Box, to Dark on Fire, to Outbursts, including two copies of Ether Song (for the different bonus discs) and Bottled at Source, Everybody Knows Every Day’s A Wicked Black Game and Something Out of Nothing EP.

But it’s always The Optimist that’s been with me through thick and thin. It got me through University when I was feeling low and uninspired, it was the album that I bonded with my first serious boyfriend over, the first gig we went to. Feeling Oblivion was ‘our song’ and we would regularly play it together on guitar and mandolin. When we split, I couldn’t listen to it. And this made me sadder than anything. This album had been through it all, with me. So when I saw Turin Brakes at Shepherd’s Bush Apollo in March 2010 and they played Feeling Oblivion, I sobbed uncontrollably.
And suddenly everything was ok. I knew my love affair with this album wasn’t over. I knew I could listen to it again, and it could once more be the soundtrack to road trips, to new adventures of love and loss. I know now, that wherever life takes me, this album will be there to make me feel alright, like a warm, slightly angsty cup of hot chocolate and a blanket.


Sam Ellis, Dronfield.

1 comment on “The Optimist Gallery: Sam Ellis

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.