giovedì 21 gennaio 2010

Mull Historical Society "Loss"

Dio salvi la Scozia, e in questo caso il buon Colin MacIntyre, uomo/gruppo che sfornava un gran bel dischetto. Ricco di tanti di quesi suoni che la metà bastano. Se guardate nelle recensioni è piano di riferimenti ad altri gruppi. Che dire? Beh, la carne al fuoco non manca veramente. La materia pop viene presa e modellata in tutte le sue forme, anche se il fatto di venire dalla Scozia la dice lunga su quale sia il punto di partenza, musicalmente parlando. Buon divertimento (2001 Blanco Y Negro)

Do you long for the pop of a past era-- say, the early 70s? Do you like lots of instruments, whether they all belong in a song or not? Are you into artists who seem to be full bands at first, but then turn out to be just one guy with lots of musical friends? Well, if you answered yes to any of those inquiries, come with me, I'd like to take you on a tour of the Mull Historical Society. If you answered no to all of them, come along anyway-- we won't be long.
As your guide to the Mull Historical Society, I'd like to note that it's not my job to stick up for the Society's output so much as it is to inform you about the Society and all it has to offer. With this in mind, let's proceed directly to an overview before delving a little more deeply: Mull Historical Society is not a full band, nor even a society, but rather the creative vehicle of songwriter Scottish Colin MacIntyre. MacIntyre nets a massive haul of guest players, choirs and orchestras to serve his compositions, in much the same way that Neil Hannon used to for the Divine Comedy, or, perhaps more aptly, in the same way that Jake Shillington does for My Life Story. The vintage of his songcraft is probably about 1971 or so, though the production and arranging techniques he implements are more modern.
MacIntyre's voice is a high, nasal whine, extremely similar to Kevin Junior of the Chamber Strings, or kind of like Lindsay Buckingham with a slight cold. It serves his classicist pop melodies quite well, and you could never accuse him of writing out of his range or being off in his delivery. The real problem arises from the fact that, while his songs are fundamentally simple, MacIntyre would prefer you didn't realize how basic they are, piling on everything and the kitchen sink in a transparent attempt to cover up the lacking songwriting. The supersize approach works for some of the songs, but by and large, these tracks suffocate under overambitious arrangements.
The good news is, there are some really good songs here-- even if some of them are hidden under impenetrable piles of arrangement. And there are even a few that aren't hidden at all, like "This Is Not Who We Were," one of the few songs that gets up off its ass and ramps up the tempo up a bit. It almost rocks! "Animal Cannabus" gets by mostly unscathed, too, though a preponderance of add-on synths and bells threatens it several times.
The best song, though, is probably "Watching Xanadu." Why, if it had only been released 27 years ago, you'd be hearing it on those midnight ads for those AM Gold CDs that nobody actually seems to have in their collection when you come to visit. Still, it'll certainly get the guilty pleasure juice boiling in your loins, with its remarkably infectious chorus and swooning Burt Bacharach candor.
But then there's the rest, and though you could hardly call any of it flat out bad, most of it suffers from one or more afflictions that keep it from being all that engaging. "Barcode Bypass" is probably the sparsest song here, and its weird, dark choral ending is pretty neat, but god only knows why they chose to drag it out to the seven-minute mark, stretching it further than it could realistically stay interesting. "Public Service Announcer" and "I Tried" collapse under their own weight before they can really get going anywhere; "Only I" is like Rufus Wainwright Jr. with a bigger orchestra and an overload of trumpet bombast.
"Mull Historical Society" functions not only as MacIntyre's signature song, but also as his project's aggressive human resources department, beckoning "Come on and join us" over and over again amidst a ridiculous arrangement of horns, synthesized steel drums and electronics that's so cluttered it makes my desk look orderly. The Mull Historical Society Children's Choir struggles to inject life into the leaden beat of "Instead," but can barely be heard over the orchestra and a barrage of effects.
And that concludes our little tour. At this point, you should have a fairly good idea of what to expect from Mull Historical Society. Really, if MacIntyre didn't overpopulate his songs with so many sounds, he could have a pretty decent record on his hands. But as it stands, he does, and it hurts this album a lot. Less is more, and Loss is middling. (Joe Tangari -

Mull Historical Society seem to live in a hermetically-sealed world on Loss, like their indie peers Clearlake and Belle and Sebastian, where reality is glimpsed only through a filter of fanciful fantasy. Named after a genuine society, dedicated to the preservation of tradition on their home island--the Isle Of Mull, in the Inner Hebrides--Mull are a Scottish band of a familiarly twee mould. A mere duo, consisting of frontman and songwriter Colin MacIntyre and bassist Alan Malloy, their sound is bolstered on this debut with a jumble-sale haul of queer, quirky little touches: an alarm bell ringing in the background of "Public Service Announcer"; a children's choir, accompanying the whimsical, gently unfolding "Instead"; and a mixture of samples, electronics, and imaginatively-utilised household instruments, billowing out of this record's numerous nooks and crannies. It's easy to see whispers of Mercury Rev--albeit, a Rev transplanted from the backwoods of Middle America to the sandy, windswept beach of a remote Scottish island--providing an inspiration for some Mull's wide-eyed tales. If you can hack MacIntyre's occasional simpering tone, the likes of "Barcode Bypass"--the tragic tale of the closing of the local cornershop--or "I Tried"--heartbreak, rendered as a chugging, theremin-accompanied indie-rock anthem-- offer a world so pure, so untainted, it's got to be worth a visit. (Louis Pattison -

- Public Service Announcer
- Watching Xanadu
- Instead
- I Tried
- This Is Not Who We Were
- Barcode Bypass
- Only I
- Animal Cannabus
- Strangeways Inside
- Mull Historical Society
- Paperhouses


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