Mull Historical Society
It would be a massive understatement to say that Colin MacIntyre, heart and soul of Mull Historical Society, owes a debt to Brian Wilson, Burt Bacharach and the rest of theose idiosyncratic ’60s symphonic popsters. This album sounds like MacIntyre trying to outdo his idols, writing and recording as “big budget” as possible. Theme songs and ballads are reeled off, one after another, just waiting for movies to be filmed for their inclusion.
Although there aren’t any truly bad tracks, some songs are so good they deserve extra attention. “Don’t Take Your Love Away From Me” is the crystal clear love song Belle and Sebastian have been trying to write since 2000 but are constantly falling short of. The production is beautiful, as is the comparatively minimal instrumentation. Simple acoustic guitars, bass, piano and drums drive this song down a well-traveled road, but MHS do it so well you’ll forget about all the times you’ve heard it done before.
The jab at the self-alienated upwardly mobile, “Minister for Genetics and Insurance M.P.” is what Blur’s The Great Escape might have sounded like if Damon Albarn wasn’t so enamored with plastic sounding keyboards and synths. The vocal melody is instantly catchy and the chorus is as biting as any other in modern socially conscious music. (“I’m waking up with the Minister / turn on a new debate / working with industry / catching another plane / I’m waking up with the Minister / turn onto pay-per-view / taking a final stand / staring in TV land”).
The Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan turns up as an unlikely influence on “Gravity” and “Can.” Both boast vocal melodies you’ve heard escape The Bald One’s lips before; these are just a tad less whining. “Gravity” even features a guitar line oddly similar to the forgotten Pumpkins filmic dud “The End is the Beginning is the End.”
Hmm, this is getting dangerously close to becoming a track-by-track fawning over, so I’ll just close with this: At its core, Us is classical, romantic pop, powered by the sun and recorded specifically for your summer days and hopeful summer nights. Which is just what the world needs right now.