As I’ve no doubt said before, Olive Grove Records is a label that keeps releasing outstanding music seemingly effortlessly. The label’s latest gem is Foreign Organ, the new album by Woodenbox which brings to mind the likes of Mercury Rev, Wilco and The Beatles while retaining a distinctly Scottish feel and sound, producing a quite marvellous album that should soundtrack everyone’s summer.
In comparison to their previous works, Foreign Organ is a confident, in places muscular beast. Opener Somewhere New starts proceedings off gently mixing a beautiful piano line with vocal harmonies and Deserter’s Songs-like horns before Life Decays enters changing the mood, bringing a full on pop feel to the album. It’s a hugely impressive song, especially around a minute in when a full on horns attack takes the song to a new dimension. It’s one of many tracks here that are instantly unforgettable and one that you can well imagine increasingly large crowds losing it to. More Girl Than Friend calls upon the assistance of label mates Alex and Cat from Skinny Dipper to lend female voices to a song about a friendship that has nothing left but lust. It’s an absolute joy with a chorus most bands would die for. The band then go almost all out pop with Roberto which is propelled along on the sort of guitar line that Idlewild used to do well. Again, it’s a song that surely can’t fail to connect with any audience that hears it. A9 North then slows the pace, a piano led song telling a story of plans being made on a journey which fits in nicely with the feeling of post referendum blues the band felt partly drove the album.
One of my highlights of the album is the next track Directions And My Boy, a father’s message to his son that features some quite wonderful Beatles like harmonies that are beautiful. The song has a distinct Paul McCartney in his louder moments feel and that’s echoed by the next track Face Able which is another of the standouts here. It’s a diatribe against internet dependency, which kicks off like an angry Daytripper before one of the most memorable choruses I’ve heard in a good while lands, turning the whole song into a riot of pop joy. The irony of writing a review on a blog that will be linked to on Facebook and Twitter whilst singing “He became obsessed with being liked” is not lost on me I must say. The beautiful Carbon Mold follows before Rust arrives, bouncing along on a piano line that makes you jump about in your seat without realising you’re doing it. It’s an outstanding track and it just makes you smile. The feeling of post referendum blues returns with closer Scotland, a lament for a country that could have been, but one that remains optimistic and dreams of change in the future.
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Foreign Organ is a quite remarkable album really. I’ve played it numerous times today and not just in that excited way you play a great album when you first hear it and love it. I’ll play Foreign Organ many more times over the forthcoming months and years because it is one of those albums like, for example as referred to earlier, Deserter’s Songs, that has a timeless quality that will mean it will be with you for years to come on many journeys, be they on the A9 or elsewhere. Go and get this album.