Album review: Fair Mothers – In Monochrome

An awakening, a searing clarity, epiphany – for Kevin Allan, aka Fair Mothers, these were the effects of reading classic novel The Stranger by Albert Camus. Camus was a Nobel prizewinning French author who pioneered Absurdism – the philosophy which deals with the conflict in the human tendency to seek value and meaning in life in a contrarily chaotic universe.

Fair Mother’s newest offering, In Monochrome, pretty much bleeds Camus. The album is the artist’s second this year. Symbiotically linked to its predecessor Separate Lives, In Monochrome is the weirder, more distant, and moodier brother of the two.

Capturing an existential lushness in its overarching sound, the album throughout maintains an ambience that leaves us feeling slightly off-kilter. As much as the feeling of disillusionment is a factor of Allan’s music, the poignant references to his family or to the future of the human race bring home a familiarity to the listener. Allan is undoubtedly a talented musician and lyricist, and now I’m wondering: why haven’t I listened to his music before?

Simple guitar riffs and familiar chords, from what has the feel of a cherished and dusty piano, are put to eloquent use. Quite the believer in community and working together to better something, his collaborators on the album are Faith Eliott, Dana Gavanski (both, vocals), Esther Swift (harp), Sam Mallalieu (drums), Pete Harvey (cello), and a guest appearance from Johnny Lynch aka Pictish Trail, on ‘Birds & Bees & Tiny Fleas’.

‘Birds & Bees & Tiny Fleas’ is just shy of 10 minutes and sounds like it could have been faxed from Neil Young’s seminal On The Beach album. The track is understated and simplistic, yet bursting with lamenting emotion. With its wah-wah guitar, an old piano playing away with beleaguered intent, and a strange wee bongo drum that seems happy just to be taking part, it’s really fuckin’ good. The powerful strings throughout carry the same vibe as watching a goodbye scene from an old black-and-white movie.

‘Monochrome’ was born from an intense argument with Allan’s wife, and the song carries the gravitas that comes with someone who has lived what he sings. It doesn’t necessarily have the intensity you’d imagine would come with a fierce argument, but instead provides reflection.

Final track ‘16:39’ is my personal favourite. It meanders along, with ideas that simmer away until the sound clears for Allan’s vulnerable voice: ‘The halo has slipped, it’s covering your eyes’. At its core a simple acoustic guitar strums, augmented by delicate piano, and the song builds organically with a weaving mix of heavily distorted electric guitar giving way to sublime cello. And then, that coda…bliss.

In Monochrome feels like a deeply personal piece of work, like it’s Allan’s surrender to the chaotic universe: a submission of his bare naked soul. All we have to do is enjoy the privilege of listening in.

In Monochrome is out from 7th August via Song, by Toad Records.

Subscribe

ads

You May Also Like

Music Interview: Carla. J Easton – Lockdown, Fan Clubs, and Shiny Pop.

There are some artists who are so prolific, you wonder what it would take ...

Interview – Andy Reilly chats to Chris from Man of Moon about their new Chemicals EP

Man of Moon came from the stratosphere, or at least the East Coast, sounding ...

Music Interview: Georgia – Seeking Thrills

Every night felt like going into battle The start of the year may be ...

Interview – Ladytron

An early contender for the albums of the year spotlight and comeback of the ...

Review – Swervedriver – King Tut’s, Glasgow – 14th May

If you’re into music, it’s likely you have a favourite band or artist, but ...

TRNSMT 2021 dates

TRNSMT 2020 Cancelled

    TRNSMT 2020 Festival Cancellation Announcement. The organisers of TRNSMT festival today announced ...

Interview: Ghostpoet talks about his latest album ‘I Grow Tired But Dare Not Fall Asleep’

Resisting the temptation to sugarcoat the world around us, London-based artist Ghostpoet continues to ...

hinds band playing live

Album review: Hinds ‘The Prettiest Curse’

‘Just Like Kids (Mau)’ doesn’t just give us the title for Hinds’ The Prettiest ...

Hello.

 Get your weekly guide to the best events in Scotland.

Plus: offers, competitions, discounts and loads more.

SuperPlus: be the first to see our digital editions.

Sweet!

:)