Broken Chanter – Broken Chanter
- Kate Walker
- 28 August 2019
David MacGregor's new solo project offers up a tasty slice of Scottish indie avant-pop
In search of inspiration for his debut solo album, David MacGregor (of Kid Canaveral fame) headed for the Highlands to immerse himself in the rugged vistas of Skye and Ardnamurchan. The product of these isolated weeks of writing and demo-recording is the eponymous Broken Chanter; a title that could double as a tongue-in-cheek description of the sombre singer himself. Pairing catchy choruses and post-pop grooves, with melancholic, self-deprecating lyrics about ageing and resilience, MacGregor offers up a tasty slice of Scottish indie avant-pop, shot through with streams of folk and electronica, that fans of the Twilight Sad or Frightened Rabbit will meet with glee.
Many of the highlights of the record come when MacGregor experiments with field recordings: the opening track 'Nineteen Ninety-Eight' features a recording of a Japanese freight train that lies in a bath of huge, almost rave-y synths and swooping fiddle lines, before a galloping, drum-heavy groove thunders in. The contrast in mood and scale between the first two tracks is perhaps the most stark illustration of what MacGregor does best on this album: from a sweeping, anthemic soundscape, the music deftly zooms right in, to an intimate, hushed guitar line in the first few bars of the waltzing 'Should We Be Dancing'. Another ambient peak comes on the sparkly 'Mionagadanan', which sounds exactly like its name; a previously lost Gaelic term for the twinkling dust particles caught in a ray of sunlight shining through a window.
These more cinematic moments are interspersed among solid, indie pop-rock tracks, yet they do leave you keen for some more daring experimentation or variation that never quite materialises. But the sweetest melodic moments ('Don't Move to Denmark') and the danciest choruses ('Beside Ourselves') definitely make up for the less memorable stuff in between, in music that marries both traditional and contemporary influences to make an album that is somehow just so very … Scottish.
Out Fri 6 Sep on Olive Grove and Last Night From Glasgow.