I am always really happy to hear something vaguely resembling one of my favourite bands of all time, in this case Prefab Sprout. But, the old songs get slightly depleted after 30 years and the new bands that are influenced often don’t get any further than a quote and a nudge here and there. The Loch Ness Mouse, one of Scandinavia’s finest pop combos’ self-titled album is different: it’s not just extremely well-crafted and magically referential to the fab Sprouts, but most importantly, it elevates our mood just like old masters of sophistipop did, bringing us fresh material at the same time.
This self titled album that was already released January 22, 2016 on Voices of Wonder Records, was also released through the well-respected Japanese label P-Vine Records and involved a number of guests including Sondre Lerche and Anne Lise Frøkedal. I am well aware of the fact that this review is way overdue, but I think the album deserves a bit of an attention boost:
“Warm Circuitry“ starts our journey back in time and gives us that snug feeling of instant-recognition: engulfing chords a la Paddy McAloon gently strumming, dabs of 80’s synths and delightful vocal harmonies set the tone, and warm us up for the rest of the album (which we will need with all the rain coming up). “Bamboo” has to be a favourite, although I have to admit that it takes a few listens for it to come alive completely. It’s just one of those songs you end up playing over and over and need to sing along to, even if you don’t know the lyrics. Beautiful, unexpected chord progressions here. “The Cherry Blossoms in Japan” takes us back to the early Style Council of “Luck“. It’s an “uplifter” with a penchant for relentless romanticism “Why we take someone to heart, I can’t explain, who cares if the heart will…beat… normally again“.
Hearing the first guitar-chords of “Pretend it’s Not So” is Prefab Sprout‘s “Bonny” revisited and then get sprinkled with magical keys and Bacharachian brass. It conjures up scenes from 60’s film “Les Parapluies the Cherbourg“… innocent and melancholy “early morning with rain“….. imagery that is extended in “Rain Checks” a track that reminds me of the J-pop of the very early Pizzicato Five album “Antique 96“, and on which we are treated to some power Paddy pop and a few yachtrock-ish guitar solo’s. “A Different Life” continues to take us in that direction and is a definitely inspired by Hall and Oates in their prime : “hall”mark keys, a hooky chorus and boundless layers of stunning harmonies. In “Epoxy“ the “raintown“ effect continues (“it’s gonna rain down hard again, in this town tonight said the weather report “) : I can’t help but hear “Goodbye Lucille” and I can’t help but wonder if we’re in Oslo or Inverness. The rain never seems to stop, but who cares! I am inside, listening to the the drops on my roof and the Loch Ness Mouse album…..