11 Jun 2016

Minor Victories / Minor Victories (album review)

I hear the phrase "supergroup", I throw up in my mouth, I shiver a little, then eat some peanut butter on toast and let it all blow over. A cycle as old as time itself. Supergroups generally get a lot of attention because they have big enough names to overshadow the artistic output and lack of ideas. But one group bucking this trend, furthering their careers with a new musical direction is Minor Victories, whose self-titled debut is now out...

Sure, there are big names in the world of underground guitar music - huge even. Stuart Braithwaite of Mogwai, Rachel Goswell of Slowdive and Mojave 3, and Justin Lockey of Editors make up the band. But their debut stands out, as an autonomous sonic tapestry that works as an arrestingly beautiful work of art whether you're familiar with Come On Die Young and Pygmalion or not.

The sounds of each band that the members are in, though, does definitely seep through if you listen with an analytical ear. Textured guitars and ambitious structural buildups hint at Mogwai, the Aphroditean vocals of Slowdive, and the out and out anthemic blaring present on the classic Editors albums (I don't care, End Has A Start is a classic album) are all ingredients that make this record into one pretty brilliant record. The pop structured tracks capture a real euphoria, particularly on Cogs, where Goswell sounds weirdly like Grimes, where every single second sees the music reaching closer and closer to heavenly ascension. Scattered Ashes could be a jazzed up Editors song, with guitar choruses that sound big, and - although its beginning to sound a tad grating for people that listen to 6music 9 hours a day - an overt tendency to evoke feelings of extraordinary beauty.

But there's a lot of ambition as well, although maybe if you're listening to the project as a fan of Mogwai you might be a tad less inclined to think so. Folk Arp and The Thief beautifully sprawl out over 7 minutes each, both of them taking on a string-assisted, post-rock structure that serves to prove how bloody beautiful music of this type can be when done properly.

Although at times, the record doesn't evoke quite as much feeling as either Slowdive or Mogwai's stuff. A few tracks fail to really move me one way or another, like semi spoken word For You Always, or lead single One Hundred Ropes. These blips, however, are few and far between, and only really come about because the band are willing to experiment, as this record does really cover every sonic basis. From the surprisingly aggressive opener Give Up The Ghost, to the elegant, beautifully arresting closer Higher Hopes, Minor Victories is a debut that showcases real beauty. And well, if this is their first offering as a group, you've gotta hope they're a proposition here to stay...


Words: Calum Cashin