Small Factory (along with Honeybunch and Velvet Crush) put Providence, Rhode Island on the map as the premier home to wimp rock during the 1990s. While I found their two albums, 1993's I Do Not Love You and 1994's For If You Cannot Fly, somewhat disappointing, I still consider them a great singles act, as proven by the (unfortunately out-of-print) 1996 singles compilation Industrial Evolution.
I didn't move to Rhode Island until 2000, so I have no idea what Providence was like in the early 90s. But in my mind I picture a city populated exlusively by people who looked like the audience I stood amongst at a Heavenly/Small Factory show at Under Acme in New York City sometime in the early 90s: lots of twenty-something women wearing baby doll dresses and Hello Kitty barretts alongside men wearing thick-rimmed glasses, thrift store clothes and Hello Kitty barretts. In my estimation these were men and women who in other times and other places would have already been forced to lead adult lives for the better part of a decade, but were hopelessly clinging to an idealized notion of childhood innocence. Perhaps that assessment will sound less harsh if I admit that, in essence, I was one of them. I don't think I went quite so far down the road of spectacularly hip scenesterism as others, but without realizing it, I was hiding from the adult world in graduate school at exactly the time I should have been making my way in it.
On one level, the obsessive tweeness of the 90s indie-rock scene was a legitimate, perhaps inevitable, reaction against the world-weary posturing of grunge. On another level it was simply cloying and cute, a temporary hiding place from the world of adult responsibility and its mundane demands. But setting scene politics aside, Small Factory's singles still hold up for the same reason I found them appealing at the time: it's solid pop music delivered with passion.