Saturday, 28 April 2012

Mummy Short Arms - Old Jack's Windowless Playhouse

Album review by KevW


It's incredibly rare that a band emerges, seemingly from nowhere, as fully formed as Glasgow's Mummy Short Arms. The brace of singles released last year displayed a complete and perfectly executed understanding of the band's concept; there was nothing that didn't fit, nothing to be improved upon, yet these were still experimental tracks, songs that were naturally conceived to stretch the boundaries of indie-rock and to carve their own route as opposed to hanging off the coattails of others.

While most bands may take two or three years to bulk out their set into an album's worth of material (which will often be patchy even then), just a year on and the seven-strong collective put forth a debut album, 'Old Jack's Windowless Playhouse'. Both the title and the artwork convey the warped vision of a circus freak show: twisted, dark, disturbing but highly intriguing all the same. True to form, this perfectly encapsulates the feel of the record. They've nailed the imagery just as successfully as they have the music, which talks about Houdini, whisky, mortuaries, unsavoury characters and tales of the underground.

The music itself is intricate and imaginative, and always perfectly apt. A mixture of swampy harmonica, layered effects and an expert rhythm section backing the introspective, laid back guitar and demented vocals that sound like the work of a man possessed; let out on day release in a straight jacket to shriek and scream about the distorted visions that occupy his mental space. Each track sounds like a single and 'Old Jack's Windowless Playhouse' doesn't carry an ounce of flab. Everything included seems essential, passionate and entirely complete.

If you want a few track names as starting points then 'Where's The Mortuary?', 'Change', 'Cigarette Smuggling' and 'Searching For A Body' may be good first ports of call, but really this is an album to immerse yourself in entirely. Because of the depth and totality of the music on display, these are songs that are likely to age as well as a fine whisky and get better with time. To put it bluntly, we're potentially looking at one of the best debut albums you're likely to hear for some time.



Mummy Short Arms' website

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