Nothing Broke? Well don’t fix it. Sorry, that was lame. But it’s exactly how I feel about Meursault as a band. From the first moment I heard Meursault, I knew that they were a band I was going to love. Their debut album ‘Pissing on Bonfires/Kissing with Tongues proved this, was on my top 10 list of 2008 and is still an album I turn to when I’m flicking through my ipod trying to decide what to listen to. I think it’s a stunningly good album by probably my favourite Scottish band. Of course, one of the best things about seeing Meursault’s live performances is that you never get 2 shows that are the same. Sometimes Neil plays solo, sometimes he has little Chris in tow and sometimes the full compliment are there. Sometimes they are stripped down to the bare bones and sometimes they are full on electronic noise mongers. You never know what to expect and that is always a great thing about a musical performance in my eyes. So with the release of Nothing Broke I would assume that those of you who are expecting more of the audio onslaught of POB/KWT will be slightly surprised by what this EP contains. Opening track ‘Nothing Broke’ is probably up there with anything I’ve heard by Meursault, the subtle piano line just about breaking through as the song swells beautifully to its conclusion. ‘Red Candle Bulb’ a cover of a Withered Hand song is as tender as you can imagine Meursault being. Neil Pennycook’s vocal, for perhaps the first time I can think of on record, remains contained, on a leash if you like, adding to the simple beauty of this track. Big thumbs up to Dan for the song. Big thumbs up to Merusault for their interpretation of it. ‘Love or Limb’ is another stunningly simple and sparse number with Neil’s vocals to the fore this time. The harmonies are special on this. The double vocal track being the stand out but the song itself is another little gem. It’s funny, during the course of making the Kays album with Neil I’ve had the pleasure of hearing some of these tunes in their simplest forms, on a ukulele or acoustic guitar, so it’s lovely to hear how they have developed. Still simple, still stunning but with lovely little touches of instrumentation adding to their overall beauty. The last 2 tracks of the EP William Henry Miller Parts 1 and 2 will be familiar to a number of folk. Well, part 1 anyways. A firm live favourite – so much so that at the recent Fence gig at Old St Paul’s, audience participation of handclaps occurred during Neil’s solo set, which was a lovely touch. I know a number of people who felt this song should have made the album track listing, I’m not sure why it didn’t, but if you ask me it has found its perfect home on this EP. Part 2 starts off sounding like it could be by Sam Amidon, which is no criticism. Once again though, when Neil’s vocal kicks in, this sparse and haunting finish to the EP is lifted to another level. Neil warned me it was not an uplifting EP. I am inclined to disagree. This is stunningly good. It is a beautiful change of direction and pace by a band at the top of their game and deserving of the attention surrounding them at the moment. And it is uplifting. Well it has been for me. It makes me want to make the album better and inspires me. For everyone’s sake, I hope that this EP reaches the wider audience it deserves and inspires others too. There is Nothing Broke and if you ask me, things are only going to keep getting better.
As an aside but something I hope people will attend in number, Meursault play Trampoline on June 13th with support from Wounded Knee and The Foundling Wheel.
TSP Grade = A-