Review Summary: Scotland's Arcade Fire? Maybe. My Latest Novel deliver a stellar combo of Indie, Folk and Pop with debut.
On paper My Latest Novel don’t seem to stand out at all. An indie band from a foreign country who use strings, tuned percussion and the like along with the typical array of Rock instruments isn’t nearly as original as it used to be, and My Latest Novel aren’t really packing anything else in their debut release, Wolves
. But, I was drawn to the paragraph long blurb on My Latest Novel that Alternative Press featured in their “100 Bands You Need to Know in 2007” nonetheless. Maybe it’s because among the hordes of Fall Out Boy likened bands that the article contained, any band compared to Sigur Ros and The Arcade Fire is bound to catch your attention. Whatever the reason, Wolves was playing on my computer within the hour I finished the article.
My Latest Novel seems like just the kind of band that would make the writers at Pitchfork Media’s nether regions stick to their jeans (They did, in fact give it a 7.9). Comparisons to The Arcade Fire are well founded, see sentence two for reasons, yet Wolves is far from a rip-off. Lead singer Chris Deveney’s vocals come off as much folkier than that of Arcade Fire’s Win Butler, and his Scottish accent only helps differentiate the two. Coming somewhere between a chant and a coo, Deveney doesn’t have an amazing voice. Instead of over produced and perfect, it comes off as honest and hard-working, exactly the right qualities for an Indie band. The album’s many mellow folk-esque songs, like track 2 Pretty in a Panic
, are perfect for Deveney’s type of voice. Pretty in a Panic itself, highlights his vocals with subtle drumming and a lush background of violin and cello, with everything going into a still very mellow overdrive about half way through.
Throughout most of the album, Deveney is helped out by various members of My Latest Novel. Said aid’s form varies, it can be in the form of delicate female vocals, like on the mostly acoustic Learning Lego
or gang vocals, like in the instrument-less intro of When We Were Wolves
. Whatever the case, the result is, like the majority of Wolves’ ten tracks, beautiful. The hand-clap and whistle laden The Hope Edition
, another mainly-acoustic song complete with pleasant strings and brushed drumming, is good example of how great My Latest Novel’s harmonies are. The choruses of “Just like a star/My pining subsides/Drops but then swells/Clamps my insides/When I dream of you/Tears cloud my eyes/Drown and explode/Collect, and fall on”
that take place on one of the album’s many highlights, Wrongfully, I Rested
, are yet another example of how stellar Wolves’ vocals can get.
The album’s best track comes in the form of the six-minute sixth track Sister Sneaker Sister Soul
. Sister Sneaker, being one of the album’s most upbeat tracks, is also the first single. Beginning with the album standard of acoustic guitar mixed with Deveney’s vocals and the occasional string line, the track quickly evolves into a much more upbeat affair. Here, strings dominate the melody line, with electric guitar arpeggios and quiet basslines taking up the background. Deveney sings “Flowers that liberate me/Go to sleep and await the night time/Hiding from the light that she brings with her/Policies of the worst”
before the majority of the music drops out, leaving just strings to fill the void. Over the next few minutes, the music builds back up in true post-rock form and some of the album’s few distorted guitar chords come into play before everything drops out and leaves Deveney alone with an acoustic guitar to sing the last few lyrics.
Overall, My Latest Novel’s debut is just about as great as I could have ever hoped for. Every song is enjoyable in its own right but some tracks, like the heartbreaking “Wrongfully, I Rested” or either of the singles (The previously mentioned “Sister Sneaker Sister Soul” and album closer “ The Reputation of Ross Francis
”) definitely stand out. Anyone who thinks my description of Wolves’ combination of Indie, Pop and Folk sounds appealing to them ought to check it out, definitely worth the download or even the buy.