Mull Historical Society Loss

This debut CD from Scotland’s Mull Historical Society garnered heaps of critical praise when it was initially released last October in the UK, and for good reason. Mull main man Colin MacIntyre has as much of a way with words as he does a knack for revisiting some of the most playful and compelling moments in all of popdom and making them sound so fresh and engaging again that listeners will find themselves at a loss to finger the sources of the original inspiration with any degree of confidence. That’s a skill. The balance of this fabulous equation, however, is all about talent, something MacIntyre (who not only wrote, but performed and produced pretty much the whole hog here) has in spades. Loss is one of those rare albums that can move an otherwise hard-hearted reviewer to lapse and loose all the flowery prose of a greenhouse diary. Think Belle & Sebastian without all the twee bullshit and sentimental "staring into the tea” nonsense, or Teenage Fanclub with a few new ideas for a change, and you may be getting close. Mull’s landscape is varied well beyond that of most of the band’s contemporaries, the only common threads being the "stick in your head” quality of each track and a penchant for subtle musical references to the classic pop motifs of the 1960s. Otherwise, the Mull pallet features various combinations of simple, brilliant, playful and insanely catchy musical hues. At times, MacIntyre comes off as a prophetic lyrical genius, at others a self-loathing nerd begging listeners to help him give up once and for all. Somehow he remains a likeable character throughout each costume change, though. Check out the liturgical charm of "Strangeways Inside,” or the psychedelic inclinations of "Paperhouses,” or the grass-scented theme song "Mull Historical Society,” which somehow makes unlikely dance partners of Village Green-era Kinks and Isaac Hayes’s Shaft band. Furthermore, the track "Animal Cannabus” has got to be the best pop song since the New Pornographers’ "Letter From An Occupant,” and that’s saying something. (Virgin)