Multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, and arranger Sean O'Hagan founded his first significant band in Cork, Ireland, in the early '80s. Along with songwriting partner Cathal Coughlan and an ever revolving group of musicians, that band, Microdisney, achieved admirable U.K. popularity with their literate and often politically tinged brand of indie pop. After relocating to London in 1982, Microdisney continued to release albums that were critically acclaimed (but not big movers in the record stores) until late 1988, when the group disbanded. Coughlan went on to form the Fatima Mansions, while O'Hagan channeled his creative energies into his own solo project. O'Hagan's debut solo album, High Llamas, didn't cause much of a stir when it was released in 1990, but the Beach Boys-inspired instrumentation (and general West Coast smoothness) of the record gave a glimpse into where things were headed. O'Hagan formed the High Llamas, soon after his same-named solo effort, as a vehicle to indulge his baroque pop/Beach Boys/electronic interests, and released their first album, Santa Barbara, in 1992.