Paddy McAloon

I Trawl the Megahertz

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I Trawl the Megahertz, Paddy McAloon's first solo album, is as likely to perplex and infuriate as it is likely to stun and spellbind. Grand, heavily orchestrated, predominantly instrumental, and not the type of thing you put on prior to going out or when you're in the mood for cleaning the house, the record is incredibly powerful -- almost too powerful -- even when held up against everything from Prefab Sprout's past. The most significant song is the opener; 22 minutes in length, it's nearly elegiac in it its mournful tones played out by a swaying string arrangement and a weeping trumpet. Throughout its duration, Yvonne Connors speaks matter-of-factly -- yet dramatically enough to be poignant -- as she rifles through fragments of her memory, the most disarming of which reads like this: "I said, 'Your daddy loves you very much; he just doesn't want to live with us anymore.'" Of the eight remaining songs, McAloon's voice is present on just one, which doesn't come along until near the end. This song, the particularly autumnal "Sleeping Rough," is almost as emblematic of the album as the opener, expressing a somewhat sorrowful but content coming to grips with the passage of time ("I'll grow a long and silver beard and let it reach my knees"). The album was conceived during and in the wake of McAloon's bout with an illness that temporarily took away his eyesight, but it's plain to hear that his vision remains.

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