SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SINGLE (Part 81)

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I’ve been looking forward to posting this 7″ single for quite some time.

First of all, a little bit from wiki:-

Meursault are a Scottish indie rock band from Edinburgh, formed in 2006. Led by singer-songwriter Neil Pennycook, the band’s musical style has been variously categorised as folktronica, alternative rock and indie folk. The band themselves have described their most recent work as “epic lo-fi”. The name of the band is a reference to the main character of L’Etranger, the existentialist novel by Albert Camus.

Their releases to date have been generally well received by the music and entertainment media, both in Scotland and on a nationwide level. In 2009 The Skinny placed the band’s debut album, Pissing On Bonfires / Kissing With Tongues at No. 16 in their “Scottish Albums of the Decade” list; while their second full-length release, All Creatures Will Make Merry, has been reviewed favourably by a number of notable media outlets.

“Something for the Weakened” is the third studio album released on July 16, 2012 on Song, by Toad Records. Regarding the album, songwriter Neil Pennycook noted, “This album makes more sense to me, and I think I’m more relaxed this time. I can hear it as a body of work, and it resonates more with me than the other records.”

Unlike the band’s previous two studio albums, Something for the Weakened does not feature any electronica elements, with Pennycook noting that his Macbook broke prior to recording, and that “I think we all wanted to move towards something which had a more human element to it.”

Recorded by band member Pete Harvey, Something for the Weakened is the first Meursault album to feature contributions from Lorcan Doherty, Sam Mallalieu, Kate Miguda and Rob St. John.  Neil Pennycook notes, “With the last two records I was into that idea of just locking myself in a room for a few weeks and emerging with an album, so it was nice to have everyone getting together this time, bouncing things off each other.” Pennycook also noted that the band had more input than on previous recordings; “When the songs are being recorded/arranged the rest of the guys have a lot more input now due to the nature of the sessions. Whereas before I treated recording as quite a solitary thing, I play better with others these days.”

Upon the album’s release, he stated, “I’d written a bunch of songs, a few we’d been playing live for a little while in some form or other, but most were worked up from pretty sparse guitar, piano and vocal demos.2

“The song “Flittin’ gave me an idea of what I wanted the album to be about. While the other two are pretty heavily-themed, I just wanted this album to reflect what was happening over the course of a year. I don’t think the lyrics are quite as metaphorical as they’ve been in the past, they’re a bit more direct and that’s what I was after. That carried through the instruments as well.”

The lyric, “So long, it’s been good to know you,” featured in “Flittin'”, is by Woody Guthrie.

It’s the single Flittin’ which is featured today.  This is a single that I would have very high up in my list of all-time favourites….not quite enough to break into the 80s dominated Top 10, but without any question, this is my favourite 45 of the past decade or so.

Much of this is to do with how unprepared I was for it.  I’m a huge fan of the debut LP from Meursault, but I’m less enamoured by the follow-up.  Matthew from Song by Toad Records is a friend of mine, and he was telling me ages in advance that the material for the third LP was a bit special.  And he was right….

It’s an astonishingly beautiful but powerful record.  It’s also one in which most of the songs are able to be arranged in different ways depending on the live setting – Meursault mostly perform as a standard five or six piece band but there are occasions when they are accompanied by a string section while sometimes Neil Pennycook will perform solo; but no matter the type of show or the number of musicians on the stage, Meursault will never fail to leave you gobsmacked at the quality and magnificence of a performance which will stay with you for a long time.

Flittin’ is a great example of what I mean by the different styles.

mp3 : Meursault – Flittin’
mp3 : Meursault – Flittin’ (piano)

The A-side is a glorious cacophony of acoustic guitars, keys, drums/percussion and strings over which Neil stretches his vocal chords to stay on top of it all and remain in control.

The B-side however is just a vocal and piano. It might be the same song in terms of tune and lyric but it’s a totally different song in every other respect and is, in this fan’s opinion, one of the most beautiful bits of music I have the pleasure of having in a vast collection.

Enjoy

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