Us Album reviews.
Release Date: 03.18.03
Record label: Beggars XL Recording
Some Good Sheep
by: peter naldrett - uk correspondent
The sheep on the Isle of Mull might not bat an eyelid when the name Colin MacIntyre is mentioned. But for many on the sleepy Atlantic coast island, that is the name putting the lesser-known Scottish place back onto the map. MacIntyre is the man behind Mull Historical Society. Not the original one that delves back into his ancestral past, but the new audio-friendly version which belts out decent tunes like there is no tomorrow. On the bands website MacIntyre has kindly included a lot of factual information about his homeland and there is even a link for people wanting to holiday there with the sheep.
Mull Historical Society made quite a splash when their debut album, Loss, was released in 2001, much of the attention grabbed because of the bands unusual name. But with Us they had the chance to prove that their talent is rooted in more than just picking cool names. And they have largely succeeded.
Us is an album that moves through distinct phases and seems to mature as goes on, from a song-by-song approach at the start to a more integrated ending with hints of Badly Drawn Boy about it. You may have heard the bands single, "The Final Arrears", on the radio already, but the album shows it up to be a shallow and tinny song that is easily bettered elsewhere. "Am I Wrong", "Oh Mother" and "Dont Take Your Love Away From Me" are all to be preferred, although its not until the last half of the album that things really get cooking. The "Supermarket Strikes Back" is a perceptive look at modern life which, along with "Clones" and the musically triumphant "Us", takes things onto a higher level and ultimately saves the album from nose-diving into the deep waters of the Atlantic.
Despite MacIntyre moving to Glasgow to study many years ago, Mull Historical Society retain their rural roots in Us, notably at the end of the title track when sheep take centre stage for a while. And there is the effective use of the shipping news sample in "The Final Arrears", an influence that always seems to work well in music and has also come in handy for Blur and Black Box Recorder.
In addition to the songs on the album, there are four bonus tracks to be found when you shove the CD into a PC, which is FAB. Us is not the album that will hoist Mull Historical Society onto a pedestal, but it is a pleasant enough meander through the mind of a talented individual. As MacIntyre starts a lengthy UK tour this month, you could do worse than to check out what this society has to offer.13-Mar-2003 1:14 PM
* For those of you interested in learning more about the Isle of Mull, the people of Mull and their sheep, check out the website on www.mullhistoricalsociety.com. You might even want to take a look at the information about the band while you are logged onto it!