Supergroup MINOR VICTORIES arrive with tunes both minor and major…
The debut release of their eponymous album has finally given everyone an opportunity to assess the output of so-called supergroup Minor Victories. Comprised of members from Slowdive, Mogawi and Editors, the first thoughts are drawn to what such a combination of sounds could produce in the shape of an album.
The vocal talents of Rachel Goswell had previously been forged through her work with shoegaze supremos Slowdive. Her ability to craft a haunting gossamer voice helped give the band its distinctive sound (and her time with post-Slowdive outfit Mojave 3 wasn’t too shabby either). Joining forces with Stuart Braithwaite (Mogwai) and Justin Lockey (Editors) and James Lockey, Goswell now has an opportunity to expand and explore with new collaborators.
‘Give Up The Ghost’ is a confident opening track – a strong percussive number accompanied by a dense layering of guitars and effects which gives the album the perfect overture. ‘A Hundred Ropes’ offers up a broody electronic approach with string rhythms and an airy vocal playing with metaphors of oceans and shipwrecks.
Meanwhile, there’s a broad sweep to tracks such as ‘Breaking My Light’ that offers up Goswell’s distinctive etheral tones against string arrangements and frenetic percussive beats. Elsewhere, ‘Folk Arp’ is a more meditative moment with Goswell’s soaring vocals drifting across shimmering strings.
If there’s a standout track on the album however, it’s the widescreen rock of ‘Scattered Ashes (Song For Richard)’ with its fuzzy guitars and a guest vocal from James Graham (The Twilight Sad). It’s a heartfelt tune of love and loss that deserves repeated plays (The video of battling kitties and lasers is a winner too!).
Also along for the ride is Mark Kozelek (Red House Painters, Sun Kil Moon) whose distinctive baritone growl delivers a meandering narrative on ‘For You Always’. It’s a gear change which, while effective as a standalone composition, strays somewhat from the sound of the rest of the album.
Album closer ‘Higher Hopes’ strips away the embellishments with its mournful piano melody and haunting strings. Goswell sings of anticipation and hope in breathy tones. “I will brace myself for everything that I don’t know yet”.
intriguingly, the band didn’t record the album in a studio but put the material together by networking online. It’s probably a point that some of those with a fundamentalist bent might take issue with, but as the sleeve notes state: “We made this record as a band, because who the fuck really knows what a band is nowadays anyway?”
Minor Victories offers some inventive ideas (and guest talents) that hit the mark, but as an album it lacks perhaps a more cohesive vision that restrain the outfit from delivering a solid result. However, on the whole the album scores more than it misses and suggests that there’s enough of a good foundation to build on.
He is responsible for design outfit Arc23 as well as writing for outlets such as J-Pop Go, Electronic Sound, All The Anime, Manga Entertainment and The Electricity Club.
He has been featured in a variety of press and media features including the Metro and Japan Update Weekly.