You get the feeling this band have a hell of a record in them if only they’d let a little light on their personalities, pay a little less attention to perfecting their craft and be a bit more strident in their voyeurism.
A good record, and I do like listening to it, (it’s one of those LPs that you play over and over without really knowing why, possibly why I’m reviewing it 3 months after its release) but if we suspend disbelief for a second and compare this offering by Megaphonic Thrift to a football match, our summary would be that hoary old cliché, a game of two halves, guv.
It starts promisingly as well; at times you do think given the first few clever, well-constructed tracks that things are about to lift off and the listener will get something really special, despite the feeling that there’s not much personality on show. Stuff like Tune Your Mind, Raising Flags and Fire Walk with Everyone see layer upon layer of guitars making up a rich and sensual texture of mid tones, the music is offset by a steady, sparkly beat and periodically enhanced by some lovely female vocals. There’s a lot of arpeggio too, whether in guitar or vocal lines. It’s one of those simple, effective formulas that catch the listener every time. There are hints of Lush, Michael Karoli, Buffalo Daughter, GBV, Sonic Youth, Stereolab, all good cool stuff.
Things get more meaty with a run of three tracks in the middle of the record, here we get more light and shade: Broken Glass / Yellow Fingers is possibly the best song sequence on this LP, a brooding dark, folk swirl set over a tippety-tappety beat. The vox work beautifully here, creating a hazy and sticky, sexy atmosphere, a looser one, more romantic and less constrained by any formula. Moonstruck is a powerful pop song, a glistening track, set up by a simple vocal and a sparkling guitar part and using arpeggios as if there’s been a price run on them. Following this, I Wanted You To Know is a straight if cheeky and fun take (structure wise) on something off Witthuser & Westrupp’s Trips and Trauma.
After that things tail off, which is a real shame. Kill Breathe and Frown, Swan Song and The Guillotine are pretty standard rock strolls that could have been written anytime in the last 30 years or so. There are moments in all, of course; there’s a nice psychedelic wobble half way through Kill Breathe and Frown for instance and the call-answer / boy-girl vocal on The Guillotine could have been made into so much more, it’s such a shame we only get a tiny snippet. Over The Mountain, Do and Spaced Out are, again, a couple of really good half ideas that could have been fleshed out with more vim and vigour, opting instead to settle down and be nice, pleasant spacey workouts. They really need to commit. You get the feeling this band have a hell of a record in them if only they’d let a little light on their personalities, pay a little less attention to perfecting their craft and be a bit more strident in their voyeurism.