Edwyn Collins
Understated


3.5
great

Review

by Joseph Viney STAFF
May 27th, 2013 | 5 replies | 1,750 views


Release Date: 04/01/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: He may be understated, but he must never be underestimated

It may seem somewhat trite to mention the double cerebral haemorrhage Collins suffered in February 2005 in every review or article concerning him. Alas, it is unavoidable; such a debilitating incident can denote a ‘Year Zero’ in one’s life. For fans and other music aficionados, it denotes a strong but unavoidable, not to mention unwelcome, benchmark in a person’s life and their career.

We may never know whether or not Mr. Collins dislikes the constant mentions of a confusing and upsetting time, but the three records released since that incident stand as a testament to man’s drive, ambition and desire to claw back normalcy in the face of real adversity.

Understated by name, but certainly not by nature, the record is a sweet mix of old-school Northern soul schematics, wistful ballads and songs that contain many layers to be unlocked with repeat listens.

Opening track “Dilemma”, with its Mariachi-style horns and devilishly upbeat swing, is rendered schizophrenic with its maudlin lyrics: “Dilemma…that’s me all over” and the refrain repeated throughout “What is the point?” lend the song a melancholy hue. Of course, we can’t begrudge Collins in his pondering of life’s more existential questions.

Similarly, “Carry On, Carry On” sees Collins ruminate on the “quaint little things” he sees “when I’m out”; the verbalisations of a man overcoming the most intense of circumstances, finally beginning to get a grasp on life and its supposed meaning. The guitar squalling underneath throughout indicates a strong element of playfulness remains, and the need to push himself musically is as evident as ever.

Elsewhere, “31 Years” carries with it the weight of a man turning through old photo albums or watching grainy home movies while the sprightly rhythm section on “Too Bad (That’s Sad)” is reminiscent of the best of the beat groups the UK has birthed in the last few decades.

The chorus of the album’s eponymous track sees Collins intone “Understated, I am. I was only a boy” before declaring “I’m a singer of sorts.” It’s a window into the mind of Collins, whose line in mild self-deprecation and feet-on-the-ground outlook may have served him well during the darker times of recent years. Most importantly of all, it’s another addition to the fine body of work he has built up since his days in Orange Juice. Being able to grasp a second chance has provided Collins with real impetus, and we as listeners can only sit back and reap the rewards we can from the resulting output.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
May 27th 2013



7245 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great review as ever Viney, good to you giving this some exposure.

I like this a lot more than my rating suggests, if that makes sense.

TheSpirit
May 28th 2013



16666 Comments


I really wish you wrote more. Our tastes aren't similar at all but you're easily my favorite writer on the site. Really good review.

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JViney
Staff Reviewer
May 28th 2013



313 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Ali - Yeah I get you. It's a great record but anything higher than a 3.5 just seems a bit too much. It's Edwyn Collins. That'll do for me.

Spirit - As ever, I do plan to write more for this site, but time is rare for me right now and has been for the past few months. I write for a number of other publications (mainly local but mostly music based), so if you want to keep up then find me on Twitter @jjviney.

YoYoMancuso
May 29th 2013



10175 Comments


never met a girl like you before....


nah just kidding enjoy this review man, this guy's guitar work is really underrated.

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Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
May 30th 2013



16072 Comments


the summary made me tHink this was a Jacob Royal review



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