CD REVIEW: Morph - "Morphsville"
By James Grimes - 02/20/2004 - 08:02 PM EST
Well it was a cold day here in Southern Ontario, Canada when I received a package from Northern Ireland of all places. It seems a seven-piece band called Morph wanted a review of a record called Morphsville ? I thought of Kafka and threw in the CD. I instantly took it out of my computer and slapped it into my system. The melodic journey had just begun. Stewarts everywhere on the record, brothers Richard and Stephen man the guitars along with, unrelated Collie Stewart, whose lead vocals brought back memories of Mike Peters from The Alarm. His ability to croon and rip a note was initially the most striking aspect of the music as he sings right up front. But as I entered the record and floated around inside, the music and instrumentation enveloped me, and it all made sense.
You can tell a lot about a record when you skip to the longest track and you donít tire easily. Track 10, a Zeppelinesque freefall called Make Me Mine, is a 7 min 17 sec song that was not a chore to listen to. I did find my favourite track on the record amongst the 12, track 6, Freedom. Written by all three Stewarts, Freedom is a fantastic subtle gospel/ folk melody that could put goose bumps on ghosts. Itís always amazing to hear how a simple melody with a strumming guitar can hit the cerebrum. Other tracks of note include Motion, an airy harmonica driven number that saunters along full of base lines and attitude. Also, It Isnít How, track 11, is a slow and boozy sort of Bono meets the Pogues for last call number.
British/Irish bands seem able to incorporate more styles and sounds with out sounding like things have been added on at the last minute to give a good pal a job. Why is that? Are the Brits exposed to more musical influences than others? I donít think so. I think it might be the extraordinary eclectic music on their radio, any way I digress.
This record is poppy but not in a 3 minute variety. It is sultry pop, understood by a listener who can appreciate that songs should be sung with conviction, and chords are meant to ring out to rattle the walls of your brain or at the pub with your mates.
Morph, as the name implies, are an ever-changing entity. I hope that they can stay fixed at their current molecular state to allow listeners on this side of the world to have a taste.
Recorded at Einstein Studios:
Look for Morph and check them out at: www.morphsville.com
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