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Album review

Martin Carr

OMFG – this is a monstrously confident comeback by one of the most overlooked talents in the ROUK (in case you are reading this after the 18th, just saying, or Former UK, aka FUK, maybe not) – former Boo Radley frontman Martin. Still the consummate popstar, possibly a concept now a bit out of date but wait for these promised (see “Ten With Betty” Q&A, ibid) live shows…

BM has already chalked off the first track and it is a corker, a bonafide pop hit if we were 20+ years ago, but…

And the guitars – in a year where very average (sorry guys) Royal Blood were slavered and gushed over (no, Betty can gush with the best of them but did not gush) (saw them at TITP, only have 2 speeds, they only have 2 speeds, did I just say that, again) sell more than the Strokes debut and dates sell out in 2 mins flat, well that is manipulation, only guitar band on the R1 A list, a scandal (and sorry to RB, you are no’ bad, but…)

After a breezing lead track, a pummelling second tune channeling Catholic boy backstory “St Peter” indeed, MC on track 3 muses on his role in the industry (sympathy for it, no chance, but the melody is beautiful), the lyrics so dripping with irony (middle-aged attempts at trying to be a pop star – a van that won’t start, etc), he sounds alert and in control rather than the previously narcotic versions of the 90s, sorry MC but… yes, you are back.

And yes it is gorgeous, MC’s voice has matured and is a resonant instrument, expressing lament and longing in equal measures in ‘Mountains’ – along with some kind of weird dog bark sample, but it works. It is just so good to have him back, doing stuff that he likes – the instrumentation is quite trad, some flourishes of strings, and tweaks of other sounds – quite classy, and you know that BM knows her classy.

Track 5 is reflective but again quite remarkable, the attention to dynamics and pace, the lyrics, can’t quite believe this… ‘Senseless Apprentice’ is more of a wig-out and aimed at certain targets, the guitar gets cranked up and the attack appears to be at the “Bullingdon Boys” but is more of a rage against the stupidity of man: “Universe will breathe a sigh of relief” when we self-destruct. But again the instrumentation and tempo are spot-on.

Subsequent tracks are witty (‘No Money In My Pocket’) and lovelorn (‘I Don’t Think I’ll Make it’) – drawing comparisons with oor own Scotch doomsayer Malcolm Middleton.

Track 9 perks up a bit, with some kind of declaration of love for “Mandy” – a bit complicated but anyway…

Closer ‘The Breaks’ may not be the best lead track on this wildly varied release, so we can only hope that MC can sustain this effort, and makes it up to Glasgow for some serious guitar abuse – you know that Betty is waiting…