JANUARY: Museum Of Love – Museum Of Love

So, I wasn’t sure what to do for this month, because while I have been really enjoying this album, I honestly didn’t expect none of you to have it yet. Why? Well, there’s a few reasons: firstly, it’s on DFA, where I’ve devoured everything LCD have released, and Shit Robot, plus a few other things like The Rapture, and I know that’s the same for others as well. Secondly, it’s a two-man outfit that contain’s LCD’s rhythm section: Pat Mahoney, and also DFA family Dennis McNany, who’s been involved with anyone from The Rapture, Panthers and Shit Robot. So, that’s a surprise, but not the biggest surprise about this album, not by a long way.

It’s Mahoney’s vocals. Jesus, where have they been for the last ten years? Yes, LCD were all about the distilled elements of the trio: be it James Murphy’s gruff, heartfelt vocals and lyrics, or Nancy Whang’s keys and backing vocals, and then Mahoney’s inimitable, whirring percussion that seemed to be in a state of perpetual motion, even when it was slow and rumbling. But as the final notes of the compact opener, ‘Horizontaltor’, fade, in comes this sound that isn’t like anything I’d have ever expected. I’d actually – unusually – not picked out or previewed any of Museum Of Love’s previous singles, which meant that, despite them being around for well over a year already, I approached this with only a vague thought of what may be in store (synths, some great drumming, something hopefully LCD-ish) armed only with positive reviews from fellow LCD fans.

And this was the problem at the start. I just wanted another LCD album. Of course that’s idiotic, but it’s hard to separate my love for the three-piece from anything that involves any of them. That coloured my first few listens, even though there was a lot for me to enjoy. And then it just clicked for me. So, why? Well, I’ll return to Mahoney’s vocals first and foremost. On ‘Down South’ I thought I was hearing Bryan Ferry. It was a revelation. And just made me wonder why Mahoney’s vocals only ever appeared fleetingly in the background of some of my favourite records. It was pain, heartache, and this great falsetto. It was like my favourite band had included a hidden member I’d never been aware of. And while there are only nine tracks in its spartan forty-two minutes, there’s so much to like here. ‘In Infancy’ is probably the most ‘LCD-like’ track, with its heavily effected chorus vocals and familiar Mahoney percussion shuffle and synth motifs, while ‘FATHERS’ is a gorgeous lament – one of the standout tracks on the albums with a looped, rolling key that makes me think of ‘Home’ every time I hear it – and ‘The Who’s Who Of Who Cares’ leans towards Shit Robot.

Yes, I’m comparing this to other stuff I know, but given the label that’s inevitable. But, and it’s a big but, this is immaterial because Mahoney’s vocal, that gives the whole album its own feel, so in the end, after a few listens, it’s just simply Museum Of Love. There’s some really great stuff to love here – ‘Learned Helplessness In Rats (Disco Drummer)’ (what a title!) has this infectious, watery, drums, and brash chords, ‘Monotronic’ is rumbling, slow-disco vibes, and ‘The Large Glass’ is gloriously ‘out there’, but ‘All The Winners’ tops them all off. Lovely keys, and this wonderful balanced vocal, muddied in a delay. This isn’t an album that I’m infatuated with, yet, but I keep coming back for more and more because the tracks stick in my head and pop up at the oddest times. That’s always a sign of promise.

But, see for yourselves.

7 comments

  1. misterstory

    Great write-up Guy.

    I am a big fan of this. I’d not heard of them before your email. I tend to not have much time read much more than reviews and this had not come past me yet. I also need to listen to 6 Music in the car more as I am getting cut off through busy-ness! I was a little nervous when I read that this was a post LCD, DFA release but Wow. I was a little more nervous when I read a few reviews which all read as a list of 80’s checklist influences dot to dot. I always felt that stable-mates The Juan Maclaen where always guilty of a frustrating pastiche and feared the same from many reviews. The reviews forgot to say that this is a quality album in its own right. It never feels like its robbing its influences but borrowing things for a little bit, giving it back and saying ‘hey look what I did’. Ok shit analogy but great album thanks Guy.

    • whyohwhyohwhy

      Thanks Brother Joey. I tried hard to put my finger on it and why I’d felt the same when being recommended the album last year, but you’re spot on. It’s definitely referencing many different things but it never feels like anything other than ‘them’, if you get me. It’s been a real pleasure getting to know it and I’ve not felt like I had to rush in. There’s lots of different moods in there, and the closer is just sublime.

  2. whyohwhyohwhy

    And for Shit Robot, he’s only had two albums. From the Cradle To The Rave, his debut, is more raw, quite discoey in a Horse Meat way, lots of rasping analogue synths and NY influences but I think it’d dovetail into this album quite nicely. We Got A Love is more rich and warm, (I think he’d made his first in the bedroom) and I really like it, but it doesn’t quite have that brightness that the first has. I’d go with his debut first. I’ve seen him live as well, and he’s ace.

  3. nolankane706

    I think that Guy have covered much of my current thoughts on this.

    From the get go at the start of every song I was expecting LCD and James Muphy. Therefore it did take a few listens of this album for my ears to adjust that something much different was going to happen vocal wise. Bryan Ferry was my first thought as well, perhaps a little Future Islands-ish.

    The album as a whole works really well together but it did take me a while to decide where to dive into this. The first stand out track for me was “Learned Helplessness In Rats’ (what a song title). After that ‘In Infancy’ caught my ear. Pretty much everything fell into place after that.

    For me this is a great weekend album whilst knocking about the house or to have on when you’re doing work. Less for the car, and not really for the gym or running.

    Over all good pick!

  4. David Allison

    So sorry it’s taken me so long to get involved. Been sweating over rewrites the last 2 weeks.
    So yeah, I really like this. It’s very engaging and it’s a good listen. It’s really up my street – obviously coming from the LCD stable, it sounds a great deal like Murphy and, like Murphy himself does, therefore a lot like Bowie too. What’s not to like?

    I wouldn’t go as far as saying I quite love it though, and I do wonder if it’s an album I’ll play for a bit and then not return to. Could be wrong. There are some great tunes on there (FATHERS and Down South are both excellent), but there is also some fannying about. Still a lot more good than bad though.

    It does wear its influences on its sleeve a little too strongly – it’s SOOOO like LCD that sometimes, it’s almost funny. I mean, fair enough, why wouldn’t you? But for me it hasn’t quite got it’s own idenity. I was also thinking of Twin Shadow and (like Nolan) Future Islands. Anyway, it’s good, solid stuff with some cracking tunes. A good start to the year, anyway…

  5. whyohwhyohwhy

    Glad to hear the responses Brothers, and good to hear we feel the same in many ways. I think it’s a real grower, and I listen to it every few days at the moment. Yes, it’s LCD in places, but actually I think there’s enough subtlety and also Pat’s voice that I rarely think of the direct connection when I’m listening.

    I just love it, and I never thought I’d really feel that way at the start and also with all that baggage I didn’t think I could separate the two, but it’s ghosted past that, and there’s as many influences here for the 80s and 70s as there are in the 90s/00s.

    Great stuff!

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