Saturday, May 22, 2010

Album Review: My Sad Captains – Here And Elsewhere

“One by one they appear in
the darkness: a few friends, and
a few with historical
names. How late they start to shine!”

(from the poem “My Sad Captains” by Thom Gunn)

A poem and a band, both with the name My Sad Captains, and both beautiful. Though the band, unlike the subjects in Thom Gunn’s poem, are shining sooner rather than later. London-based, though certainly sounding not at all like residents of the Big Smoke, My Sad Captains make positively lovely music. It’s prettily pastoral, with a hefty dose of wistfulness. To me, it’s the soundtrack you might want driving through miles of country, perhaps running away from (or running toward) something or someone.

Here And Elsewhere is a delight from start to finish. It’s sublime, placid, delicate. They remind me of a somewhat subdued Fanfarlo, they’re more low-key and a little lighter on the dramatic flourishes, though MSC is definitely in the same league when it comes to gorgeous music. It’s an album of sweeping tranquility, and mercy me it’s sensational. If I had to guess, I’d say MSC was listening to a whole lotta Beach Boys, Teenage Fanclub, and early Belle & Sebastian just before they holed up in the studio.

“Great Expectations” makes an excellent opener, jaunty and full of playful jangle and fantastic harmonizing. “Hello Bears” is a favorite, reminding me a little of Mercury Rev with its wavering vocals, somewhat sorrowful tone, and sleepy tempo. That dash of horns definitely adds to the yearning that pervades the song. “I’d rather be unknown,” they claim in title track “Here And Elsewhere”, a delectable slice of mope with dainty tinkling on the xylophone and pulsing with plaintiveness. Newest single “You Talk All Night” is a joy, with a magical opening and a punchy bassline, along with some soft piano that’s the cherry on the sundae. It’s a breathtaking song, but then, Here And Elsewhere is full of them.

It’s been a year of pleasant surprises, but perhaps finding My Sad Captains is the most pleasant surprise of all. Here And Elsewhere is simply stunning, full of subtle beauty and positively glowing with glory. Do yourselves a favor, my darlings, and pick this record up. It’s to good to be missed.

mp3: You Talk All Night (My Sad Captains from Here and Elsewhere)

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