Album of the Week: Meursault – Something for the Weakened
If you’re an aficionado of Edinburgh music, this is sure to be one of your most anticipated albums of the year.
Meursault (centred around singer, guitarist and banjo-plucker Neil Pennycook) have been grafting for years, and two previous longer players with related EPs and compilations have seen them showered with praise without ever having truly threatened to spill over into any vaguely resembling mainstream success.
The last year or so however, has seen a bit a change in the water. Live shows – notably for us, Homegame 2011 – have seen a bigger, rockier, sound wheeled out, with making lots of noise seemingly the order of the day.
It’s not just the sound that’s swelled either. Shows have been played with as many as nine or ten band members on stage, with Pennycook now able to call upon a range of incredibly talented friends.
And following a European tour with Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, their biggest ever headline show has been booked to launch the record, at Edinburgh’s Queen’s Hall with Song, By Toad labelmate Rob St. John and a Jill O’Sullivan/Jenny Reeve collaboration also lined up.
So it would a fucking shame if the record didn’t deliver, wouldn’t it?
Well, you can spare yourselves your tears and honking on your hanky. Silly pun title aside, Something for the Weakened does deliver. And how. You’ll have heard Flittin’ already, of course. It sounds like 6 Music are loving it and, sporting that ‘big rock sound’ we spoke of a short while back, it’s a fairly obvious choice for a single. It’s an instant hit and after a few spins of the album, one song that you’ll keep coming back to.
Companion piece Dull Spark is breathless, with Pennycook howling over some thumping piano. The production hroughout is also crisp and clear, and the criticisms which dogged All Creatures Will Make Merry’s lo-fi sound are comfortably seen off at the pass.
Saturday’s Queen’s Hall gig also promises big strings and there’s plenty of violin action here to suggest that it’s not just a token nod to classicism.
But of course, much of Meursault’s motif has been the downbeat, bottom of a bottle heartbreaker and for everyone big rousing number there’s a Dearly Distracted, a morose epic that peaks with some huge sounding, feedback strewn guitars. Settling, another number that’s been around for a while sounds increasingly bitter and it’s knowing “ha fucking ha” refrain even seems to have made it onto Meursault merch.
Meursault in 2012 are bigger and bolder than they’ve ever been. The effort and inspiration that has been put into Something for the Weakened is tangible and Pennycook and co really seem to have come of age. Whether the masses outwith Edinburgh will agree in the longer term remains to be seen, but without turning into a dangerously self-indulgent and insular sect, the capital can be utterly proud of them.
So the launch gig is tomorrow night (Saturday July 7) at the Queen’s Hall. There will be tickets on the door, but be early, it’s going to be awesome!