[Released 10/10/2011 - Olive Grove]
When I started this site I had hoped I might come across a few new releases that I really liked, and would have to spend the rest of the time writing about stuff that has been out for a while. However, if I’m going to be kept on my toes this much I’ll have to become a ballerina. After writing about Martin John Henry’s album I came across this, released this week on Olive Grove Records. The Moth and the Mirror have been generating more buzz in Scotland than a bumblebee using a Phillishave. Oh dear, I’ve mixed up my nocturnal and diurnal insects…not to worry. Honestly, This World is the first release from a group whose members have links with such luminaries as Arab Strap, Frightened Rabbit, Admiral Fallow, Smoke Jaguar and Reindeer Section. On the first song ‘Everyone I Know’, they start out sounding like the Delgados but by the end of the album they clearly leave their own mark. It is likely the coming together of members from different bands ensures they do not stick too closely to the singular blueprint provided by the album opener (driving bassline, spare and spiky guitars, almost tribal drums, strings, fragile but firm female vocal). Stacy Sievwright takes on the majority of the vocals here, with Louis Abbott proving an able deputy as he shares guitar duties with Gordon Skene. Kevin McCarvel is the bass driver, Iain Sandilands (awesome name) is on percussion, while Peter Murch mans the Merch stall…(not really, he’s the drummer).
Superficially this is an indie-rock album that also inhabits some rather more melancholy territory, but always with a malleable malevolence that provides salvation from sentimental introspection. There are flickers of post-rock and alt.country, ambient and modern classical; never for more than a few fleeting moments, but they are there. ‘Hope is an Anchor’ provides some of the best examples of this, and ‘Boxes’, while initially reticent and wistful, conceals an inner rage, unleashed in a wave of cathartic redemption: ‘You have to keep bad things in your head / so you understand them better later’ is the early refrain, and the second half of this 6 minute epic gives an insight into the form that process of understanding might take. Fifth track ‘Beautiful Creature’ acts as the fulcrum on which the album turns, the source of early upset becomes clear, and the trumpet that comes to the foreground along with clip-clop percussion and sparse guitar gives the real sense of a stand-off.
‘Closing the Door’ is one my early favourites, and its lyrics tell the tale of someone trying to convince themselves that they want to move on from or shut out the past, or both. There are interesting touches here – field-recordings that nicely reflect the narrative -although these run the risk of appearing a little contrived. There is a discernible thread of regret and subtle anger to be found early on in Honestly, This World, but this is an album with hopeful desire, even if in places this optimism can be seen as a veil for denial. On the aforementioned ‘Hope is an Anchor’ (which if I had to choose one would probably be my favourite) Stacy sings as if to reassure herself that ‘he just went away / to put on his shining armour / he’ll be back to get you / in his own time’. This (perhaps misplaced) longing is reaffirmed on ‘Oceans and Waves’, as it brings the album to a close with the refrain that ‘I’ll see you again / the next life will come / we’ll be together / our hands will be one’. It’s as beautiful as it is heartbreaking, but we’ll have to wait and see whether or not this fairytale comes true.
2. Soft Insides
10. Oceans & Waves