Review Summary: Melancholy lo-fi Scottish folk? Yes please.3 of 3 thought this review was well written
Meursault is the name of the protagonist in Albert Camus' brilliant novel The Stranger
. It also happens to be the name of a little known Scottish folk group that dabbles in recording beautiful lo-fi folk music. Their album All Creatures Will Make Merry
was released in May of 2010, a rather baffling time to release such an album if you ask this critic. See, these (mainly) sparse, sad songs belong to cold Winter nights or bleak Autumn days. Summer just isn't the right fit for this batch of melancholy tunes. Anyways, I digress. On to the review.
After a short introductory number that serves as little more than well, an introduction to the production style present on All Creatures Will Make Merry
, "Crank Resolutions" quietly starts. Here, you're treated to subtly propulsive electronic accents, slight mandolin, and strained vocals completely drenched in emotion and a heavy scottish accent. Choice lyrics such as, "I walked past the houses of every friend I'd ever known, then set out on my own, if only I had known" really embody the feel of this album. It's full of regret and longing, but not to a depressing degree. Perhaps it would be better described as comfortingly sad. Think of a Scottish version of Bon Iver
's For Emma, Forever Ago
and you're on the right track. In fact, that's the best point of reference I can give for this album. As I already mentioned, its got the lo-fi production that gives it that recorded-in-a-cabin-in-the-woods-in-the-dead-of-winter feeling that so many folk artists have going for them. It has impassioned vocals, sad lyrics reminiscing on lost times, simple yet pretty guitar and mandolin arrangements, as well as occasional electronic and string embellishments. Yeah, it's been done before, but not quite like this. These guys take these ideas and really run with them, making them feel new again. This is shown quite well in "For Martin Kippenberger", the second to last track. Combining electronic drums, strings, wailing cries of "please don't send me home", and some nice guitar too, this is Meursault showing with authority that they know how to do this whole folk thing.
Although this is indeed a gorgeously delicate album, the lo-fi production does at times feel put on. I'm not saying Meursault is fake. On the contrary, this album feels far more real than the multitudes of worthless records put out by hipster mountain men who create lo-fi folk to mask their ineptitude. All I'm saying is that at some points, Meursault doesn't really need to have this sort of recording. Their songs speak for themselves. Now, with that being said, the production that Meursault employs on this album for the most part actually heightens the sense of emotion felt in each song. For example, "One Day This'll All Be Fields" really benefits from the sense of intimacy its homegrown recording sound gives it. The only other issue I have with this production is that it might get Meursualt lumped in with the aforementioned faux folksters. After releasing an album like All Creatures Will Make Merry
, they certainly don't deserve that misfortune.
Basically, if you're interested in folk music at all, I would recommend this album. Meursault has all the hallmarks of soon-to-be indie heroes, so why not jump on the bandwagon before everyone else does? These guys are truly talented, and they truly know what they're doing. Don't take my word for it. Pick up All Creatures Will Make Merry
when you get a chance, build a fire, kick back, and bask in the folky Scottish goodness that is Meursault.