'Infidelity' &'Shadow Kisses'.
9.6/10.0 & 9.5/10.0
Manchester's 'soulful pop craftsmen', present an intriguing duo of mood-capturing songs.
Availability: Tracks available athttp://www.youtube.com/user/armstrongthomas?feature=watch
Geographical locality and a burgeoning local scene can work for or against...
a band from Manchester in 2013. I have reviewed a fair few of Mancunian wonder kids over the last week, including Turrentine Jones. I was blown away yesterday by the spirit, ambition and pure rock and blues spirit of Turrentine'. The 3-piece project an air of revelry and quality rarely-seen within the current climate. Today I am blown away by Mutineers. The comparisons, however, will be mutational. Although the two camps may be based within mere miles of one another, their styles, paths and futures are very different.
Formed back in 2011, they consist of Nicholas, Michael, Iwan, Charles, and Thomas. From their forenames, alone, you may be expecting a perhaps middle-class men, with an intuitive spirit of classical and jazz music. It is the diverse banners of REM, The Killers and The Smiths that are more likely to come to mind, when listening to their incredible body of work. Through a multifarious mandate of Internet and digital promotion, as well as tireless groundwork via gigging and door to door word-of-mouth, their reputation has been made, cemented and built upon. They are now the architects of a new musical Atlantis. As well as supporting slots in the company of Wintersleep and Pete Doherty, they are growing into something quite immense. Their album 'Friends, Lovers, Rivals' boasts a wide array of sounds, and shifts; with not undue comparisons to the likes of Neil Young and Echo and the Bunnymen being levied in their direction. The fact that they are not more widely-know may cause many an ostentatious interrobang, in minds and on paper. Having listened to the entire album, there is a ubiquity and ageless appeal to their tunes. It is not just the 'sound' that will cause your ears to prick up; they have a cannon of lyrics that is able to storm and conquer a pub load of Vikings. The likes of Alex Turner and sirs Dylan and Cohen, should watch their backs. The pioneering 5-piece have the words to ensure they have their names sculpted into an elite and hallowed history book. They are able to invoke and summon an array of synonyms, emotions and thoughts with a mere few words; so with that said, it is best to get down to business.
The pulsating electronic and percussive jurisprudence that begins 'Infidelity' is litigious and justice-seeking. It protests that you listen and wait for what is to come. The evidence is compelling and indisputable. With echos of the Bunnymen, as well as Depeche Mode, the mood is autumnal and exciting. When the vocal enters, you get the sense that something of an informal fallacy is beckoning. With recollection of self-doubt, feeling blue, and "all the years of self-abuse", there is perhaps a shade of black, juxtaposing the lighter mood in the background. The vocal from our front-man has a light and lyrical edge to his voice. In the manner that Neil Young can counterbalance fragility, with angelic strength is in evidence here, and there are also hints of early-The Smiths' Morrissey, with John Lennon nestling near, as well. The tale of woe and self-examination continue unabated. Anyone thinking that Ian Dury and Kurt Cobain have been exhumed, and were gatecrashing a rather formal dinner party, need to reassess any misgivings and stereotyping. The vocal- as expressed- is light, and unique as well; it alludes to musical heroes, but never becomes too similar. The lyrics are all wittily portrayed and apportioned. Nicholas manages to craft thought-provoking lines and startling paradigms of wit, that make you sit up and take notice. "It's not my infidelity/It's just you never suited me", it is proclaimed, displaying a Turner/Morrissey composite of failed love and laughing it off, tongue firmly in cheek. You feel if those lines were ever to be uttered to a tear-stained girlfriend, she may be too conquered by the cheeky wordplay to kick you in the nuts with stacked stilettos. Maybe, but not a guarantee. It has soul and heart, but a little bit of sharp-edged de-humanisation. Our hero is caught in purgatory, and explains that, with regards to his lack of social skills: "My tired lines/They're over-used". This unfettered abundance of quotable tristesse, could adorn T-shirts, and cause music reviewers sleepless nights, haunted by over-analysiation and theorising. The protagonist is not a one-man army. The band envelope the mood with a clock of sonic innovation and fraternal shoulder patting. I am reminded most frequently of The Smiths in this track. Not in any way as a sobering detraction or to suggest the boys aspire to be them. They have the same abilities and characteristics: a magic box of sharp observations, an endeavouring and spellbinding guitarists, and a supportive crew of audio mould-breakers, who can provoke the most striking of emotions and outpourings from a mere few notes. The vocal bubbles and over-enunciates in Morrissey/Brett Anderson-fashion; it dips and pitches on its knees, and spins, exhausted in the rain. It is a solid, yet dizzying trance of a voice. The song grabs you, and provides an insight into the socialisation of northern love-gone-wrong. If you are lovestruck, single or without inclination, the words will lead you to an euphony, with a much-needed slow-walk. Whether our hero is remorseful of the situation and his state of mind, or at ease with events, is hard to say. The articulatory and astuteness suggest that there will be few regretful nights, and with a sharp tongue and self-assured assignation, suggest there will be few lonely nights in the future. Mutineers may take their name from an old French word meaning 'the act of mutiny', but on the evidence provided forthwith, they are on dry land, and happy to surge and leaves the townsfolk un-harassed. The retro and invigorating electro swirl and professional and stunningly tight group performance, sets this song apart from the swathes of rank and file drones who infest the charts with witless, toothless tales of reapproriation. One Direction, Bruno Mars and Jason Mraz take note! These are the sort of lyrics and music people want to hear, so do us a favour, and back the hell down!
Cracking on with the cocaine-fuelled, limb-flailing energy of Ace Ventura, I give 'Shadow Kisses' a good spin. It has been fabled that Mallin wrote the lion-share of the band's lyrics whilst working in a Manchester book store. There is a contemporary romance, as well as an old-fashioned charm to the story, and one can only wonder whether it was the fortress of literature around him, or passing boredom that inspired the poetic brilliance. As impressive as 'Infidelity' is, 'Shadow Kisses' is no latch-key child. The intro may have a hint of incongruous disarmament with its paramour. The sound is that of '80s electro, and a veritable heart monitor of interchangeable shifts. The electronics rise and fall; pull and push. Before you think we are settling in to a contemporary Enigma Variations, there is a clattering and stuttering drum blast that awakens the senses, and shackles the wrists. It is a confident periapt, that teams with a end stage-Smiths Johnny Marr guitar weave. It sounds like a hidden track from 'Strangeways, Here We Come', sans electronics. The vocal interjection, again has a reliable mix of sweetness and cautious reverence. Our protagonist paints another Art Deco landscape, complete with tales of a former flame being "easily concerned", who was "an architect" of her own destruction. The band are reigning high in their own meritocracy. As well as another sharp set of lyrics, the music itself is equally intriguing and rousing. The guitar contorts and slingshots, shooting furtive glances and raising its blood pressure. The percussion, bass and surrounding environs of sound, grab, tug and hug gleefully, as our hero spins home truths, witticisms and fearless declarations. If you are looking for a tag-line for this motion picture I would suggest: "Death, love and squalor/The sorid details were removed/Straight from the heart/Of a suicide girl". It encapsulates and defines the aesthetic of our front-man's intent. On the subject of films, this track has a fully-formed omnipotence to its utilitarianism. It could score a charming northern drama, or a large-scale Hollywood film noir. There is a structuralism to its ambition, yet the track has a simplicity to it as well, that could see it becoming a firm fan favourite. Pessimism has not entirely been jettisoned from the track. There are reminiscences of tension, omitted details and painful confessions. There is no arid scorched-earth earnestness to the words; the sentiments are well-observed, challenging and intellectual. 'Shadow Kisses' has a heavy leaning on its chorus. But is anchors the narrative as well as propelling it. It is the core theme, and is repeated several times. Perhaps an additional verse would have salivated some somewhat dry mouths. It is another strong and critic-proof track, and leaves you wanting more for sure.
Okay, then, we are at an end. Manchester is becoming the U.K.'s capital for music culture, and is producing some fine and curious specimens. Mutineers may still have a sense of being a well-kept secret. Whether that adds weight to their legend and eventual legacy is to be seen, but it feels that there is still a large gap in an expanding market for the chaps. They can muscle to the top, establish their dominance and show other bands how it should be done. For a more complete and encyclopedic representation of the band, I would suggest you delve into their album, and take comfort and joy from a band who produce thrillers, and no fillers. The combination of epoch-defining and adventurous lyrics is a rare quality in the current climate. Away from the likes of the solo songwriter tribes, and the establish guards such as Arctic Monkeys and the '60s pioneers such as Neil Young and Bob Dylan, there are not been comparable wordsmiths. The music is eclectic and worldly and has a conviction and impassioned drive throughout. Coupled with powerful and encapsulating vocals, that have a uniqueness and freshness to them; creates a group that should be on the tip of your tongues for a long while to come.
If you are a virgin to the sensual delicacies of the Manchester music scene, or a well-travelled supporter of their team colours, put Mutineers on your iPod. Morrissey is practically retired; Dylan, Young and Cohen may not survive more than 10 years, and it begs the question: who will take the diamond-studded crowns from their temples? Look no further. Nowadays there is a divisive split between rock and pop, R 'n' B and soul, and little intersection, Mutineers provide semblance and a sense of mature authority and guiding light. Do yourself a favour...
... and listen up.