A celebration of the LP, the long-player, the album music format. Reviews, recommendations and discussion.
I don’t know how many records I listen to each year….lots would probably be the closest I could come to putting a number on it. Some are good, some are bad, many are somewhere in between, but just occasionally you hear one that is great. If I’m very lucky this may happen four or five times in any given year. A record will permeate into me so deeply that I know I will be listening to it for the rest of my life.
Well may joy be unconfined because this is exactly what has happened with this weeks’ album-of-the-week.
Before I heard Scorpio Little Devil by The Revival Hour I knew absolutely nothing about them…..and not much has changed since. I’ve had a quick Google but haven’t really learnt much except they are American. But actually I kind of like this. In the age where every thought and fart is documented on a social network somewhere it’s quite nice to have a bit of distance between myself and my potential new favourite band.
I’m not really sure how to go about starting to describe this album. Most of the things that immediately come to mind sound quite off putting. I could say I didn’t like it much when I first heard it, but then again I seem to feel a slight indifference to all my favourite records first time I hear them. I could mention that the singer’s voice is…well, kinda funny sounding and probably won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but anyone who spends any time reading this blog will soon realise that I consider one of the biggest crimes an artist can do is to have ordinary everyday vocals. I could mention that the songs aren’t of your typical verse chorus verse structure and you’ll have to make a bit of effort whilst listening, but music is to be listened to, not to be played in the background.
Scorpio Little Devil starts with the intricately layered “Control”, a slightly disorientating electronic track which leaves you feeling a little like you’ve been on one of those wurlizer rides at the fairground.
This is followed by the 60’s soul sounding “Hold Back”. It is during this track which you will either begin to love or hate the vocals on this album. Some artists have the kind of voice that is always going to divide opinion. From Bob Dylan and Van Morrison up to Hayden Thorpe of Wild Beasts an anything-other-than-typical singer will gain as many fans as they lose.
For what it’s worth I think the vocals on this record are extraordinary, some of the most interesting and exciting that I have heard for a very long time. At times they sound a little like Peter Gabriel, other times like Conor O’Brien (Villagers) but more often than not it just sounds like a voice you haven’t heard before….and a very good one at that.
“Pyre” is possibly my standout track. A thumping drum track with what sounds like electro “wind” swirling throughout with a falsetto vocal which seems to build in urgency before almost shouting “….I am your pyre burning”.
Of course I say “standout track” but that could easily apply to every track. The delicate piano ballet “Riverbody”, the minimalist paranoid “Clean”, the rolling “Run Away”, there isn’t a mis-step amongst them.
Special mention has to go to “Copperhouse”. This is a track which sounds like the mutated half-brother of Bjork’s Army of Me. Such is the complexity of this track that the first four times I heard it I just couldn’t get on with it at all. It sounded like a jumble of sounds through which I just couldn’t discern any path. However slowly it unravels and you begin to follow the layers and it opens out into a truly special four minutes of music.
I’m not normally one to gush so much about a record. I’m quite happy to point out any flaws or weaknesses I think an LP has but every now and then an album comes along that fills me with so much joy that I want to tell everyone in the world to listen to it. It’s records such as this one that are the whole reason I am so obsessed with music.
Scorpio Little Devil by The Revival Hour is without a doubt my early contender for record of the year and someone will have to produce something pretty spectacular to change my mind.
I’ve Eyed The Beast
* = standout tracks (not that the rest aren’t almost as good)