The Malchicks

To Kill a Mockingbird

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Like a '60s girl group gone awfully wrong, like Thee Headcoatees with a surfeit of nostalgia, the Malchicks roll out of the Pretty Things' Cote Basque studio set-up with a 15-song jukebox that was unflinchingly cast within the fires of the British Invasion. From "A Taste of Honey" to "Bright Lights Big City," from "I Put a Spell on You" to "Corrina Corrina," the duo of Scarlett Wrench and George Perez take you back to Any Youth Club, Anytown, England, to drive through a repertoire that almost any band you could mention will recognize in a moment; and played on period instrumentation too. "The guitars were older than the band, and the microphones were older than the producer," say the liner notes, although that is not the only reason why To Kill a Mockingbird sounds so fresh and electric. The songs here are alive in a way that modern compositions (and composers) could never imagine, lived in and loved to, and spreading out of the speakers to enfold you with such warmth and depth that it becomes easy to forget that not all new CDs sound like this, not all new music is even half this vibrant. Plus Wrench has a voice that snags your soul in exactly the same way that "girl singers" used to, back in the days when they relished that phrase. Modern music has brought us a lot of great things. But when you listen to the Malchicks, you realize what it lacks. A soul.

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