Immediately after recording what would become Slowdive's final album, 1995's Pygmalion
, frontman Neil Halstead began writing more "song-based" music, relying less on the wall of noise sound that defined Slowdive, and more on songwriting and acoustic alt/country instrumentation. Soon after being dropped by their label, Halstead, along with Rachel Goswell, and Ian McCutcheon, recorded their first songs as Mojave 3. What eventually came from these recordings was the 1996 LP Ask Me Tommorrow
which was a very downtempo, and mostly acoustic.
The drastic change in style prompted the band to drop the Slowdive title. Ask Me Tommorrow
recieved critical acclaim, and Halstead garnered favorable comparisons to such greats as Bob Dylan and Nick Drake. Two years later, the band released Out of Tune
, a slightly more upbeat album with more involved instrumentation. This album, their third, is a combination of the the downtempo Ask Me Tommorrow
, and the uptempo Out of Tune
, and the result is a pretty nice album in Excuses for Travellers
In Love With a View
This is a bit of a sad song, with a country feel to it. A soft strumed acoustic guitar and piano riff are the main instruments in the song. Neil's vocals are nice on the song. It picks up a bit about midway through when the chorus hits. It is really a good ballad. A nice electric guitar solo come in for a minute and a half before the song becomes more downtempo again right near the end and Neil starts singing again. This was the first song I heard from Mojave 3, and it is still one of my favorites.
Trying To Reach You
This is another downer of a song, but hey, this isn't a pick me up album in any way shape or form. Simple instrumentation and slightly painful vocals. "Finding an easy way to break your heart. Finding the hardest part is leaving." That pretty much sums up the song. For the first time on this song Rachel Goswell's vocals can be heard in the background. Like the previous song, this one builds up a bit toward the end, but never gets too upbeat.
My Life In Art
This is without a doubt my favorite Mojave 3 song. The simple acoustic guitar riff is amazing, and the song takes on a dream like state when Halstead's reverbed vocals come in. This is a song I can never get enough of. It is another slow sad song, but I have come to the conclusion that he is the master of the sad song. This song puts me into a sort of trance. When I am listening I can't really do anything else. The lyrics are really meaningful too. All in all this is the best and most complete song on the album.
When You're Drifting
This is the first sign of horns being used on the album, and they fit in nicely. This song is more upbeat than the previous three. This song uses more percussion and electric guitar than any previous song. It is another nice poppy song though. There is a nice solo with horns and guitar in the middle, nothing too overboard. Everything on this album is precisely balanced, and even tempered. That is another thing I like about it. There isn't a lot of variance between the songs, which is ok because they are all good.
Bringin' Me Home
This song begins with nice twinkly guitars and Rachel Goswell's beautiful vocals. This is the only song where she sings lead. WHAT WERE YOU THINKING NEIL? This is another more upbeat song. It is really paced by the twinkly guitar riff, acoustic guitar, and the catchy vocals. This is really the "feel good" song on the album for me, and probably my second favorite. Not much else to say, it is really typical of Mojave 3 sounding songs.
Got My Sunshine
This is another song that makes heavy use of horns, and acoustic guitar. This song slowly builds using effective backing vocals (which are sparsely used in other songs) They sound like they could be from a choir, or something as they are very soulful. This is another "feel good" song as evidence by the upbeat lyrics "got my sunshine, I'll get by".
Overall, it is just a very solid folk/alt-country record, that could be mistaken for something by Drake or Dylan. Nope, that's just Mojave 3.