Various Artists

A Number of Small Things: A Collection of Morr Music Singles

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Collecting a variety of singles that appeared on the Morr-affiliated label of the same name, A Number of Small Things makes for a mixed but overall quite enjoyable collection of songs very much in the Morr vein -- sweet, wistful, often electronic-friendly, and not a little derived from general indie pop and shoegaze aesthetics. Cover versions turn up throughout the collection -- Seavault, a collaboration between isan's Antony Ryan and Slowdive veteran Simon Scott, offer up a few, including Ultra Vivid Scene's "Mercy Seat" (given a sweetly majestic take not far removed from the original) and the Undertones' "Teenage Kicks" -- isan themselves offer up interpretations of Erik Satie's famous Gymnopedie sequence -- while Masha Qrella has her way with a quietly chugging take on Bryan Ferry's "Don't Stop the Dance." Elsewhere, the duo of Markus Acher and Valerie Trebeljahr -- wittily titled John Yoko -- do a version of Smog's "Morning Paper" that in its grace and charm outdoes the original. Various songs are straight-up sparkling and winsome guitar pop of the kind that eventually gave "twee" a fairly bad name -- nothing against the work of acts like Butcher the Bar per se; it's just that they bring nothing new to the field. More energetic efforts come courtesy of Electric President, whose "I'm Not the Lonely Son (I'm the Ghost)" benefits from a crackling shuffle of a rhythm, and B. Fleischman's exquisite electronic construction "Broken Monitors," which somehow manages to call to mind both OMD at their most experimental and Simple Minds at their most instrumentally precise, a triumph that never shouts out loud. Meanwhile, Populous' "Blood Red Bird" does the remarkable in sounding like later-period piano-driven Cocteau Twins musically while not trying to sound like them at all vocally -- points for credit there alone, frankly.

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