The Dublin trio’s debut is fun, but offers little to set them apart from the pack.
Rory McConnell 2012-02-08
Marcata has taken The Minutes six years to make, and yet from the outset appears to be something of a loose and tossed-together affair. Throwaway opener Monster almost dares us to keep listening – weaker listeners are likely to be left behind here. Those who make it further are treated to the gloriously melodic Black Keys: a garage-rock anthem in the making, it soaks its audience in a sea of horns as nasty guitars etch their name into skin, like keys against glass.
Gold follows, but is easily skipped as its all-too-familiar chord sequences do nothing to ignite the soul – one has to wonder why the Dublin trio didn’t skip immediately into Fleetwood, a song so huge with ideas that it would sit comfortably in a Kasabian live show. Suddenly it becomes clear why this album has taken so long to get right, as the band’s vision has begun to stretch free of their garage roots. Long-term admirers will feel comfortable with Believer and Secret History, though, as each nods back to the DIY ethics that moulded the band; they’ll also have you checking the settings on your stereo, as the distortion is so sharp.
Black & Blue (A Letter) kicks off what’d be side two if this arrived on decidedly scratched vinyl. It’s an awkward love song performed from an almost embarrassed viewpoint, mumbled sensitive emotions masked by that now signature guitar sound. But The Minutes don’t wallow for long: Heartbreaker spits and struts its way through a perfect two minutes, its makers’ penchant for producing perfect pop-rock (complete with handclaps!) shining through whatever their tendency to reach out on new tangents. Guilt Quilt showcases their mature side again – hitting the garage wall with groove and forceful ambition, it’s a wonderful illustration of how far these musicians have come since they first wrote together.
Penultimate number I.M.T.O.O. is as enjoyably dirty as anything else on the record, which in many ways is the problem with Marcata. The singles, including Black Keys and Fleetwood, are huge and magnificent, and the album tracks are as intentionally messy as they are fun. But apart from the odd soulful moment and some clever production, there is nothing here that sets them apart from their obvious influences.