This album arrived through the post on its own – no Press Sheet, no prior e-mail. Nothing.
Intrigued, I inserted the disc in my laptop and pressed ‘play.’ Immediately I found myself in a bit of a quandary. Opening track ‘I Nearly Don’t Love You, But Not Quite,’ is really downbeat, sung in a lilted Scottish accent with definite Folky intonations. It reminded me of famed Scots miserablists Arab Strap. And I could never quite get my head around their music.
I persisted non-the-less. The first track lasts only just over a minute, so I didn’t have to ‘suffer,’ too long. My attention and mood perked up on the next song, ‘You Look Like I Need A Drink.’ It’s quite a bouncy little number. It sounds a little familiar in style too. Initially I was thinking along the lines of very early James, you know in their formative ‘Stripmine’ days. And then I thought more currently – and it definitely reminds me of the brilliant Glasgow based For Abel, and their song ‘Telephone.’ Sort of Wedding Present meets New Order … with a Scottish accent.
Already I’m wondering how to approach this review. Is this maybe a new project from either / both the Arab Strap lads, Aiden Moffat and Malcolm Middleton? But I thought I didn’t like them, and this track is bloody good?!
And as the album progresses, I grow more and more to like and enjoy it. By the end of track three ‘Like Bouncers We Stand,’ I don’t really care who PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND are. This is sounding a mighty fine album!
I’m at the fourth track in. Now who can’t enjoy a track called ‘sex In The Morning (I’m Coughing , You’re Yawning)’? The pace slows, the violin weeps away over the top of some off kilter beats and the vocals tell of how love really is! And it ain’t all wine and roses, I can tell you!
‘I’ve Been To A City’ is a mid-paced melodic track pretty much in the mould of Eels’ ‘Novocaine For The Soul.’ (Took me bloody ages to figure that one out!!!)
‘Are Your Mother-In-Law And Your Mother In Love?’ carries a steady beat as a muted trumpet sounds in the distance with harmonies and effects given a touch of reverb. ‘Take Your Breath Away,’ starts out quietly with the male / female vocals playing off each other before the trumpet again appears, and what sounds like a children’s playground is sound-tracked as the horns intensify and ultimately fade.
‘It’s All Over Bar The Shouting,’ continues in the mid-pace mode, but retains the beats before ‘Let’s Stay In And Go To Town,’ builds to a crashing crescendo with an anthemic final couple of minutes filled with huge backing vocals and guitars.
‘I Am A Pig And You Are A Cow,’ uses the mellotron to create a bit of an eerie atmosphere at the outset, morphs ever so briefly to sound like a Yorkshire Colliery Band before reverting and dying away. Strange but pretty cool!
Final track ‘The Keith Disaster Fund,’ is probably the most rocking of all the eleven tracks. It’s very much drum led at the start and once again I think of very early James – which is when they were good. No – brilliant!
Through their lyrics and indeed the song titles, PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND show a typically Scottish dry and deadpan sense of humour They drop in the odd little swear word that accentuates the given situation and altogether they ‘keep it real,’ I guess. The vocals work extremely well in the native accent and at times you can’t help thinking that they sound either like Ivor Cutler in singing mode, or indeed, Arab Strap gone pop! Either way, it works.
So here I am – I’ve successfully negotiated my way through forty minutes of music I initially thought I’d hate …. and ended up loving!
I like surprises!
(As it happened, a couple of days later I received an e-mail with details and background. Here’s what it said about PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND:
Prince Edward Island a London based outfit with a Scottish singer (they are also known for their work with John Mouse) their nuanced sound is redolent of everyone from Arab Strap to Belle and Sebastian and beyond.
Prince Edward Island first garnered interest after accidentally winning an Xfm Unsigned competition they unknowingly entered, resulting in a slot at the O2 Festival, Hyde Park. A feature on BBC 2 Scotland’s music TV show Rapal quickly followed along with a UK tour and BBC Radio 1 sessions at Maida Vale with Steve Jones and a regular slot as Welsh quirk-pop songwriter John Mouse’s backing band.)
Oh crap!! – Just found the whole album on Soundcloud after spending ages trying to do it justice through mere words! Ah well – here you go …..
(Released through Crocfingers Records on August 29th 2011)