If the meek shall inherit the Earth, Mull Historical Society shall provide a template...
Bren O'Callaghan 2003-02-28
Colin MacIntyre, the creative force behind Mull Historical Society, has been jotting lyrics and blunting thumb tips since the age of six. Growing up on the Scottish island of the same name, the influence of his uncles touring tribute band led to a propensity for ego-free pop; music for the sake of shared enjoyment, instead of sucking in cheek cavities for the camera.
Years later, the result is a subtle, often mesmerising lyricism and playing style. 2001's Loss was a sunny, feel good, rabble rousing debut album. Us, however, is full of breezy melancholia and expands upon his outsider aesthetic to conjure a sense of magical otherness.
"The Final Arrears" creates an indie-lullaby with shades of Christmas carol, "Am I Wrong" treads a similar path; giving post break-up analysis an unreal calm. Shades of earlier, bouncy chart single "Xanadu" return for "Live Like The Automatics", which is perhaps the most commercial of the current bunch. It's certainly a much-needed antidote to the likes of "Asylum", which slides a little too close to Coldplay's excessive introspection for comfort.
Part Royston-Vasey, part Peter Kay, it's the minutiae of life on the fringes, of small town whimsy and wry observations that prove to be MacIntyre's currency. Up one minute, down the next, if Us were a mental condition it would be manic-optimistic. Fellow Scots Belle & Sebastian potter in similar kooky territory, while the occasional skirmish in the percussion cupboard recalls the trimmings of Super Furry Animals. The likes of "5 More Minutes", "Can" and "Us" peel back the production even further; exposing the accomplished singer songwriter by virtue of an almost solely acoustic delivery. In fact his closest musical kin would seem to be Ben Folds (formerly of the Ben Folds Five). Both being unassuming masters of their trade (Folds of the piano, MacIntryre of the guitar), elevated to the position of bedroom evangelists.
If the meek shall inherit the Earth, Mull Historical Society shall provide a template for the new world order.