Mitchell Museum – Skinny Tricks
- David Pollock
- 7 May 2020
Glasgow trio's third album is a thoughtful and well-composed addition to their output
A little over a decade after they first arrived and three years following the release of their second album Everett Trap, Glasgow trio Mitchell Museum are demonstrating that slow and steady wins the … well, they may not be in a race, but they're certainly still making music which feels thoughtful and well-composed, and which is eloquently shot through with towering emotional peaks. If their output over the past decade has been so infrequent as to leave you asking if they're still going, then the wait between each release has brought us music which has been worth it.
The concept behind the record is novel, although hard to discern within the music; bandleader Cammy MacFarlane has brought in his friends and family as guests, in the form of samples from Facebook and WhatsApp in which their voices are layered throughout the music, often looped, distorted and used as surrogate percussion instruments. Fortunately for their privacy's sake there's little identifiable sound here, but the sense of other voices lingering in the back of MacFarlane's lyrical mind is clear. 'Grandfather Tapes', for example, appears to feature a bassline composed of swirling, slowed-down bass notes of speech, while multi-tracked voices linger amid 'Sunday Documentation File'; this is music which feels peopled, somehow.
At heart, though, this is emotively constructed independent pop music, with its own strong voice and some notable flourishes here and there; the hip hop-timing beat to 'Footsteps 101', for example, or the Animal Collective-style collision of gorgeous melody and odd sound collage going on in 'Freakbeak'. The near-nine-minute epic '100 Types of Sorry in a Deep Blue Moon' begins amid a sinister burble of what sounds like road or ventilation noise, and then blossoms like a flower into a swooning repeated melody upon which layers of instrumentation build around MacFarlane's yearning vocal.
This song sums up the tone of the album, with MacFarlane's wistful voice reminiscent of Mercury Rev's Jonathan Donahue and the swirling, bittersweet, psychedelic positivity of their music calling to mind Flaming Lips. 'Screaming at the internet is far from pretty,' he sings on 'Double Doubting Preacher', but at least here he's made something lovely of the background noise.
Out Fri 15 May on Scottish Fiction.