Something For The Weakened
(Song, By Toad)
I've not always been a fan of Neil Pennycook's vocals, the not-so-secret weapon of Edinburgh art-folkers Meursault. In the past, his sudden bellow has sometimes overpowered a group harmony or seemed harsh in a lo-fi recording context. Not so on this third album: surrounded by strings on Flittin' or underpinned by banjo on Lament For A Teenage Millionaire, Pennycook's voice has become an expressive instrument rather than a musical special effect. This album as a whole seems to be straining less for arty endorsement and, while you couldn't call it mainstream, it opens itself up to more cautiously curious ears. Settling and Dull Spark are wonderful pop songs in a style REM might have attempted when they got the mandolin out, each with swooning chord structures, great tunes and nice arrangements where the cello adds sonic depth and the guitar a fierce rock growl. Later on, whether it's the post-rock dimensions of Dearly Distracted or the King Creosote-influenced falsetto of Mamie, there's evidence aplenty that this band have hit a peak of confidence in the emotional range of their songwriting.