Interview: Mary Timony on reviving Helium, a band that’s finally ready to fit in

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On May 19, Matador Records will reissue Helium’s two full-length albums, The Dirt Of Luck and The Magic City, alongside a new compilation of B-sides and demos titled Ends With And. This is more than just the now-standard repackaging of ’90s nostalgia, more than just a boon to fans who have seen these records languish, long out of print and fetching exorbitant prices. It’s something of a corrective—a chance to revisit and recontextualize a band that emerged during those years when Matador was synonymous with indie rock, when the press fawned over its label mates Liz Phair and every music geek worshipped Pavement, yet could never slot the group comfortably alongside them either. It’s a long-overdue reappraisal of one of the most inventive, transportive bands of its era, one that defiantly resisted easy definitions.

Helium’s leader, Mary Timony, was a classically trained guitarist who actively …