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Mordecai Smyth -The Mayor Of Toytown Is Dead album review

Album Review

A collection of curious, psych-soaked pop – from Reading

You can’t fault Mordecai Smyth’s attention to detail. The first full-length follow-up to 2011’s Sticky Tape And Rust is brimming with instrumental settings that constitute a kind of aural shorthand for late-60s breezy pop and the darker tones of the early 70s. If some of these tunes appear familiar in places, that’s because his writing is ‘informed by the music of yesteryear’. Thus twangy guitars, breathy flute, sweet harmonies, sinuous clarinet, sprightly beats and folds of luscious Mellotron are craftily marshalled into an agreeably trippy set consisting of nine songs. The clever trick here is that they manage this heart-on-the-sleeve homage while avoiding any obvious rip-offs. Just in case the connection to a more whimsical era wasn’t entirely obvious, a swaying, singalong cover of Caravan’s Golf Girl dispels any doubts. Its inclusion, though pleasant enough, seems unnecessary given the strength of the material, such as Heading Back West, which could’ve been found down the back of Ray Davies’ old sofa, or the impending uncertainties lurking beneath Far From The Crowd’s sunny exteriors. Guest spot soloing from Strawbs‘ Dave Lambert bookends a lovingly assembled collection blessed with a special atmosphere.

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