Mekons – Natural

Mekons – Natural / 2007 Quarterstick / 12 Tracks / / /

The Mekons have been together for a period longer than most current youthful fans of music have been alive. While it may seem like an eternity to individuals just getting into music for the first time (this year marks the thirtieth since the band was founded), The Mekons are able to create in “Natural” an album that individuals of all ages and styles can appreciate. “Natural” is their sixteenth full length album, and the disc starts out with “Dark, Dark, Dark”. “Dark, Dark, Dark” starts out with the titular mood; the mournful, masked guitar line play along with strings and a more spoken than sang set of vocals to create a confident introduction to “Natural”. “Dickie, Chalkie, and Nobby” has a lot less of the brooding and dark sound of “Dark, Dark, Dark”. If anything, there is a little bit of a tropical sound present during this track.

The second set of vocals give this track a further differentiation from the opening salvo. The xylophone used during “White Stone Door” marks the first time that I’ve ever heard the extended use of that instrument; Mekons are able to incorporate the tropical sound of this instrument to a XTC-sounding track that has the perfect bit of retro flair to resound with today’s fans. The dissonant sets of vocals hat start off “Shocking Curse Bird” provide the track with a shambling, off-kilter sound that is taken up soon after by the diverse array of instruments on the track. What results is a track that links together the boy band sound of the early sixties with the alt country movement, with sets of vocals that individuals can sing along with a la The Dickeys or “Hootenanny”-era Replacements.

In much the same way as the xylophone on “White Stone Door”, the harmonica present during “Give Me Wine or Money” acts as the foundation where the rest of the instrumentation can build off of. The resulting track has a folksy sound to it that reminds me as if Blur mated with Neil Young and Billy Bragg; the Mekons here are able to make an entire album out of linking together these opposing styles into something cohesive and catchy. The band has been around for thirty years and the maturity of the tracks on this disc show that each member has a vision for this album that is realized in each of the 12 tracks.

Top Tracks: Give Us Wine or Money, White Stone Door

Rating: 8.0/10

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Author: James McQuiston

Ph.D. in Political Science, Kent State University. I have been the editor at NeuFutur / since I was 15. Looking for new staff members all the time; email me if you are interested. Thanks!

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