Jangly pop darlings from as far North of England as you can get before you enter Scotland this Cumbrian indie power-pop tarts display enough melody for a truckload of Teenage Fanclub records and obviously have an ear for some Americana. The opener’ Play Hard’ builds nicely over layers of vocal harmonies and a decent building whisper to a scream sound as you can get.
It’s been six years since the bands previous long-player and songwriter Will Harris says the album was recorded through a particularly tough time “hope, joy, anger, fear, loss and, ultimately, back to hope again, but all with catchy tunes!” is how he described ‘Howl’ and right from the opener you can’t disagree with him. As the song builds on those Beach Boys melodies to something rougher and more bruised before coming to an end.
There’s a panoramic feel to ‘Janey’ its got some of that country-rock vibe to it not a million miles from Gram Parsons and a great wide dessert feel to it. Are they sure these guys are from Cumbria and not southern California?
It’s funny how the same week I get this to review I’m also confronted by The Lemonheads 30th anniversary ‘Lovey’ and Drive-By Truckers also release a new record all very different but all linked with a fine pop sensibility in the melodies and some of the arrangments and you can throw the new Eels album into the mix as well.
I don’t like everything on offer here. the melody on ‘Goldmine’ isn’t quite to my taste but ‘Chicago’ is back on track. ‘The Start’ is more a lovely ballad with just a sparse piano and some Crosby, Stills, and Nash harmonies going on before building.
To be honest, in a time when everything seems to be gloomy it’s quite refreshing to have something a little dreamy and warm and Mylittlebrother is providing just that light relief at this moment.
Sure there are moments comparable to the likes of Dennis Wilson, Big Star, Wilco, Teenage Fanclub, Julian Cope, and Grandaddy and Pavement all locked in the DNA of Mylittlebrother. Which is no bad thing that’s for sure. From Cumbria to California we all need to smile and records like ‘Howl’ might just be able to provide the soundtrack for that.
Buy ‘Howl’ Here
Author: Dom Daley