sat 13/07/2024

CD: Morton Valence - Another Country | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Morton Valence - Another Country

CD: Morton Valence - Another Country

Perennially sharp but undervalued London outfit remains as gloomily wonderful as ever

A blurry Liz II enjoys a dose or twangy pub lock-in maudlin

Morton Valence popped up six years ago and have released nothing but beautifully realised, lyrical, melancholic indie-Americana ever since. That's four albums of it, including this one. Strictly speaking, much of their oeuvre isn’t “indie-Americana” either, as it takes in everything from synth-pop to this album’s whispered disco-funk episode, “The Hawkline Discotheque” – yet there’s always a kernel of country & western desolation at the heart of it.

Marinated in perfectly pitched 3.00 am bar-stool pathos, the band is built around the London partnership of songwriter-vocalist Robert Jessett and the sweet, heartbreaking voice of Anne Gilpin. It's becoming clear they're one of those eternally little bands that should grow a proper following but never quite do, which only makes their persistence and quality all the more precious.

Another Country is up with all their work, perhaps even better, a feast of slowly strummed blues with a very British perspective. It’s certainly not one to put on if in search of a boisterous evening. This is borderline solipsistic listening, bedsit dirges, rich in twangy guitar and the ghost of the Velvet Underground’s tuneful gloom, the latter a particularly apt reference on the bitter-sweet “Kawasaki Drifter”.

Elsewhere among these ten tracks and five brief, instrumental interludes notable gems include “A Tear for Every Year”, which sounds like Emmy the Great collaborating with The Pogues on a Leonard Cohen ballad, or “Table for One” which comes on like Gram Parsons and Emmy Lou Harris if they hailed from Crouch End instead of the US Deep South. Then there’s the catchy Chris Isaac-esque opener “China Town” and “First Night", a story-song related from the angle of a father imprisoned after being swept up in the 2011 London riots. The comparisons come thick and fast because this is songwriting consciously carved in the shadow of heroes. It is no less enjoyable for it, and Another Country is more treasure from a band whose popularity I wish would match their reliability.

Overleaf: watch the video for "Chinatown"

They're one of those eternally little bands that should grow a proper following but never quite do, which only makes their persistence and quality all the more precious


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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