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3. Merchandise | After the End | 4AD
I've got no way to prove this, but I feel fairly confident that at least one room in Merchandise's home studio holds an altar to moody '80s pop legends strewn with cherished artifacts: Johnny Marr's guitar pick, Tears for Fears' wool sweaters, a piece of Robert Smith's hair. Whatever their method, the dutiful worship of '80s synth pop has paid off, as the Tampa band has made the best '80s pop album since 1990.