Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Mull Historical Society - City Awakenings (Xtra Mile Recordings)

What’s in a name? For Colin Macintyre, seemingly something more than merely what appears on your passport. The transition from initial guise Mull Historical Society to Colin Macintyre evidently came from a need to forge something more personal, something that hiding behind a quirky moniker and a dog in a wig might’ve made slightly more difficult, in all fairness.

So after one triumphant, pop-heavy masterpiece (The Water) and a dour, sub-par non-starter (Island) under his birth name, the Mull Historical Society tag has been reappointed. But to what effect, if any, for sixth album overall City Awakenings?

First and foremost, it appears to reinstate the bright, indie-pop audacity of debut Loss, all explosive choruses and killer hooks and full-on abandon. But there’s simultaneously an extended distance from there to here, with Macintyre’s voice in particular sounding exceptionally strong, every note walloped with fervour.

There’s also the appearance of the occasional kooky vocal tic, best embodied on the rattling drumbeats of Can You Let Her Know, before its titanic chorus floors everything in its path. Elsewhere, the one-man Polyphonic Spree of Must You Get Low further showcases the quietly eccentric grandeur he does so well.

But it doesn’t mean City Awakenings is all sunshine and big arrangements beginning to end – there are some modest, reflective moments dotted throughout, while the haunting, instrumental skank of Thameslink (London’s Burning) makes for a bold and moving climax to proceedings.

So, with that covered, what exactly is the difference between Mull Historical Society and Colin Macintyre? Very little. City Awakenings is no less personal or emotive or charming than anything else he’s done, and whatever prompted Island’s misfire has been fully patched up. Regardless of who he’s signed to or how he’s marketed or what he’s calling himself, there’s little to deny the pull or the talent of an artist whose self-carved niche is producing something very special indeed.

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