“Epic lo-fi”. That’s the phrase used by Meursault frontman Neil Pennycook to describe their second LP, and while it might look like something you’d see on a Hipster’s scrabble board, it’s an apt description of this 11-track album.
The opening salvo of ‘Payday’ and ‘Crank Resolutions’ sets the tone, with harmoniums, electronics, a cello, all manner of guitars, and Pennycook’s booming vocals all combining to create a dense sound that’s a bit, well, epic.
The 11 tracks on All Creatures… divide fairly evenly between the two main styles employed by the band; big, dynamic folk-electro hybrids, and plaintive folk ditties led by Pennycook on one of a range of stringed instruments. The two archetypes balance well, and the whole album gels together very well indeed. The fact that there isn’t a bad song on here helps, with the beat-laden ‘What You Don’t Have’ and the anthemic ‘Weather’ particular stand-outs.
If you’re wondering about the “lo-fi” part of this album, then the production and recording is where to look. Heavily stylised and packed with hisses and other quirks, each track has its own character and tone. It doesn’t always work – ‘One Day This’ll All Be Fields’ sounds like it was recorded in a bin on a child’s tape recorder – but it says a lot for this band’s ambition that they are willing to take big risks on just their second album. It says even more that they’ve created an album that combines ambition, inventiveness and melody to such great effect.