My Latest Novel are a newish band from Scotland. It seems like bands just keep coming out of that country. Soon, every Scotsman will be in a band! Not that this is a bad thing mind you, as i have enjoyed much of the tunage coming out of that country. It just seems that there is a disproportionate amount of music for the size of the country. (Then again, i have no idea how densely packed Scotland is. Maybe they are stacked like plaid cordwood, and they need to form a band to get the heck out.) Well, no matter.
A few months back i picked up My Latest Novel's Sister Sneaker Sister Soul 7", and i really enjoyed it. Two good, complex songs with excellent vocals and interesting instrumentation. Based on that favorable experience (and positive mention for Internet buddies across the pond), i tracked down the recently-released-in-America CD.
This is a lovely album, full of epic tunes. My Latest Novel's music is rich and it wavers with thickly accented male vocals and complex instrumentation. There are keys, strings, layers of voices, arpeggioed guitars. The music is never busy, yet there are some complex things going on. My Latest Novel do a good job of keeping everything balanced. I suppose that they would be placed in the "post-rock" genre, but really what they are doing is pop music that uses strange instrumentation and song structure.
It is their creative use of structure that really intrigues me. Their songs
take completely unexpected turns that seem random when looked at objectively,
but which work in the context of what they are doing. For example, The Job
Mr. Kurtz Done is a lovely song that features the male lead vocalist telling
a story a la Arab
Strap (i guess this is how Scottish people make "rap" music!) over some
light pop music, and then suddenly, inexplicably for the last minute it becomes
an oompah song, the whole band swinging along in an exaggerated waltz. Now,
that might sound ridiculous and quite possibly irritating, but i think it
makes the some somehow more interesting. Besides, can you really have enough
oompah music? [Brendan's note: Yes, you can have too much oompah music!]
Another fine example is the title track, When We Were Wolves. This starts off with the band members harmonizing a capella, just repeated the title phrase over and over, until it becomes a mantra almost. Then the song explodes with furious drumming (the drummer shouting as he pounds the heck out of his kit), chaotic vocals, and a mess of guitars. Unexpected after the almost droning intro, but again it works in the context of the song.
One last tune i want to mention is Wrongfully, I Rested. This starts out as a decent, light pop tune. Strummed acoustic guitar, light drums, and vocals build slowly, and then suddenly drop off. A very short xylophone solo later, and the song is reborn as a string-laden ballad. Very beautiful, and well done.
But there are no weak tracks here at all. By constantly keeping the listener on their toes while providing something interesting to listen to, My Latest Novel keep their work exciting and fresh.
Overall, this is a good debut. It's a fun little record, and i look forward to seeing what the band do next.