I was selected to review two albums by Mercury Music Prize nominees as part of the Mercury Prize tie-in thingy. I’m not familiar with either artist or, indeed, any of the Mercury nominees besides the obvious ones. I assume this is more to do with my passage of many Winters rather than the panel of music experts who select the nominees opting for obscure and underground acts. The pulse I have my finger is from a heart long stopped beating.
The Barclaycard Mercury Prize, as it is currently called, is often derided and criticised for choosing albums that record executives are keen to promote (or be seen to be promoting) rather than the actual BEST albums of the year. Bearing that in mind I vowed to listen to both albums with an open mind and a firm promise to be objective. Just because they’re probably shit doesn’t mean they will be.
I had a quick Google to see what the full list was and what the albums were actually called and found this BBC article which has a brief bit of blurb about every act. Cushdie.
The first album I picked to listen to was Foals – Holy Fire. I assumed they’d be gentle, arty indie rock but reading their blurb on the above site a few hopeful words and phrases popped up:
“Angular, spiky guitars”
“Driving epic quality worthy of a stadium rock band”.
This piqued my interest. Far from the wishy washiness I was expecting, they sounded like they could be a more youthful, British Fugazi! I was looking forward to this now. Let’s rock!
Ah. The first track is, the rather blandly titled, Prelude. A wishy washy instrumental that kicks the album off in a way that is as dull and forgettable as their name. There are brief burst of fuzzy guitar lurking somewhere in there but it’s buried enough to lose any effect it might have. The first real song on Holy Fire is the lead single Inhaler which is much better and actually features some of the angular guitars and has a driving, epic quality!
Unfortunately it’s the hardest track on the album and what follows is a lot more mellow and fluffy. Only the upbeat chorus of Everytime approaches its vitality. The rest is ponderous, 80’s influenced guitar pop that lacks bite and interest and has more than a whiff of indie hipster about it.
I listened to Holy Fire four times in a row and it just washed over me in a forgettable wave of inoffensiveness. It’s not particularly unpleasant or anything it’s just unremarkable and doesn’t do enough to stand out of the growing throng of ponderous 80’s influenced guitar pop bands that sound just like Foals.
4 out of 10 Well, It's alright but still...