Mountaineers Messy Century

With a production aesthetic not far removed from the Beta Band, Wales natives Mountaineers have been constantly compared to the jack-of-all-trades Scottish group since their debut EP hit the UK in 2001. Messy Century, their first full-length, reveals the group as much more of a folk-rock band at heart with the production, far from the sole source of interest, adding an emphatic edge to their saccharine-sweet melodies. Tellingly, it is when they allow the songs to be taken over by the production that the record lags. "Backgrounds" and "Bom Bom," for instance, wander about without evolving or hitting home with a memorable melody like album highlights "I Gotta Sing," "Ripen,” "Want to Write You" and the radio-friendly "All My Life." Though these momentary lapses of focus temporarily derail the disc’s momentum, the net effect of the album's 13 tracks is an overwhelmingly impressive one. That the Mountaineers have been able to develop their sound so well for their debut full-length without relying on their well-received EP tracks speaks volumes for both their prolificacy and potential. (Mute)