Album Club are a loose collective of creatives assembled from other bands (primarily Zoey Van Goey, but also The Delgados), novelists, actors, journalists and various artsy Glasgow types. The organic, ad hoc genesis and the fact that many contributors are not musicians makes sense when listening to the album, with its lovably ramshackle style and tonal shifts.
The first couple of songs speak to the indie-pop pedigree of those involved with twee harmonies, lilting duets and even a lonely accordion line punctuating the gentle, catchy tunes. ‘Transmissions’ is where the first signs of experimentalism appear, with spoken-word vocals forming the basis of the song. It’s a jarring use of the form that feels a bit jumbled in this instance, but gets better throughout the album, culminating in the penultimate song, ‘Never Sleep Alone’, which beautifully surrounds the spoken-word story with a duetted chorus.
‘Fragile & Frail’ may as well be the motto of the group and it provides the gentlest of palette cleansers in the middle of the album, breaking up a few more eccentric (relatively) tracks, and providing a through-line from the opener to the spritely birdsong that closes the album on ‘When You’re Ready’. The fragmentary approach generally works well across the piece, though the mellow indie-folk style is never far from centre, even with the synths of Walls or twee-country woodblock of ‘Night Owls’.
‘Album Club’ is a low-key affair that feels rooted in a grounded localism, that feels as intimate as chatting to your mates at the pub, which is exactly how it started. Graciously, they’ve shared these snapshots with the world at large, and we’re all the better for it.