Album review: Model Village – A Solution for Everything

There’s a certain amount of irony in the title of Model Village’s debut album, ‘A Solution for Everything’. Not that I’m suggesting the record doesn’t offer any solutions, so to speak, but as a result of this being one of the most intriguing albums I’ve heard in a long time, it does pose more questions. It’s difficult to put your finger on exactly what type of record this is; Model Village have been described before as ‘Adult Pop’ and while that’s a fair assessment, there’s much more to them than that. The group themselves appear to be of mongrel breed. Gathered from a variety of different bands and well seasoned musical backgrounds, this is reflected in the variety of styles and themes heard on the record. It’s not complete folk and it’s not complete pop. Twangs of country appear from time to time, there’s a smidgen of soft-rock here and there and then there’s some darker, more foreboding tones thrown in for good measure as well. On paper, that might sound a bit much. To your ears, it’s bloody marvelous.

Hang Ups Goodbye kicks the album off in a jolly enough manner; laden with accordions and a toe tapping beat, it immediately sets a comforting tone also found in much of what’s to follow. The standout track comes soon after in the wearily beautiful ‘Country Claimed Me’. Apathetic disillusionment with the rat race strikes a chord, this was still resonating in my head days later on a dreary day in the office. Take note readers, this is not one to listen to on a Monday morning commute. Keeping the mood in the doldrums, ‘Tiny Hands’ is an absorbingly melancholic effort, downbeat and drawn out notes perfectly complimented by achingly soft female vocals. It’s not all doom and gloom though; ‘2003’ is as feel good as they come; a joyous pop song in every sense, using glorious melodies intertwined with lilting vocals, while the country led Harder and Harder contends the age old friend/relationship conundrum over an infectious rhythm. The album title is a lyric borrowed from the life affirming ‘Perfect Scale Replica’ – an uplifting pop singalong – before Sweets brings the record to its close with a crescendo of cymbals, apologies and brass – a fitting finish.

By Model Village’s own admittance, the album has been assembled from a collection of stand-alone songs rather than created and put together with the record in mind. I’ll be honest, the festive chimes of a glockenspiel half way through took me by surprise – however this doesn’t deviate from the quality on display. There’s a nice balance of meticulousness and perfection, without being too tidy – the composition of the tracks really is just spot on. While some songs may lack that central, catchy hook that sticks in your mind, this is more than made up for by the attention to detail, and as the vocals range from male to female and then to both in harmony, the result is a gently reassuring record. As for musical influences? Well The Beautiful South spring to mind. Fleetwood Mac is an obvious one. Reminders of Michael Stipe on a happier day and dare I say it, even strains of Morrissey can be heard. Despite all of this however, I’m not sure there’s anything quite like Model Village out there at the moment – something which is an achievement in itself. It’s a joy to listen to this album, and while it may not quite be the solution to everything, it’ll certainly do for me.

‘A Solution for Everything’ is due for release on 30th April 2012, with upcoming gigs as follows:

5th May – St Paul’s Church, CAMBRIDGE – w/ Slow Club
10th May – The Windmill Brixton, LONDON SW2 – w/ The Barr Brothers
13th May – The Labour Club, NORTHAMPTON – w/ The Lovely Eggs
19th May – The Sun Inn, WATERBEACH, Cambs

Find this and a bundle of other musical stuff over here

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