Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Colin MacIntyre - Island (Future God Recordings)

Right, first things first, let’s address the hair. We’re not going to go a whole album review without making reference to the fact Colin MacIntyre has the same hairdo as Susan Boyle, and that he looks all kinds of ridiculous. There. Now that’s out of the way, we'll begin.

However, the comedy hair is no insinuation of a light-hearted, jovial pop record. His fifth album – second under his real moniker, following last year’s triumphant anthemfest, The Water – sees a different route altogether.

A sombre, slower affair than any previous material, Island is a wholly original route for MacIntyre. While preceding albums – both under the guise of Mull Historical Society and as himself – all possessed their share of subdued balladry, their presence alongside bigger, crunchier, more experimental indie-pop numbers gave them their own appeal. Sadly, on Island, tracks blend into one another far too easily, and it’ll take a great deal of careful, assiduous listening to appreciate the subtleties on show here.

It’s the most stylised and specific album he’s put out to date, and as such, may lose fans as a result. By no means is there any dip in quality, but the uptempo power-indie of Watching Xanadu or Famous For Being Famous is light years away. No Ordinary Queen is the closest you’ll find to the aforementioned volume-crankers, bubbling along gently with a jittery drumbeat and just a touch of eccentricity, but even then, is vastly removed from what MacIntyre has come to be known and loved for.

That said, the more introverted, hushed vibe may, in turn, win over a whole new army of folk-lite followers. And it’s hard not to be touched by the placid beauty of sonnets like Ned’s Song or Stay Something – it’s just a matter of adjusting your mindset to the new Colin MacIntyre. But the key thing to note is that Island, for all its variances, still is Colin MacIntyre, and if that’s not an indication of affable musical excellence, then nothing is.

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