City Awakenings

Mull Historical Society

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City Awakenings Review

by Jon O'Brien

After releasing two albums under his own name, Scottish troubadour Colin MacIntyre reverts back to his more familiar Mull Historical Society guise for his sixth release, City Awakenings. Described as a love letter to the three cities that have shaped his ten-year output (Glasgow, London, New York), this re-acquaintance with his old alias is perhaps explained by the fact that its 12 tracks hark back to the bedsit indie pop of 2001 debut Loss rather than the stripped-back acoustics of 2009 predecessor Island. Indeed, despite teaming up with Grammy-winning producer Dom Morley (Amy Winehouse, Mark Ronson) for the first time, there's a clear sense of McIntyre reliving his early days, whether it's through the nostalgic acoustic folk of "Fold Out City," the melodic Idlewild-esque "Honey Pie," and the driving Brit-pop of opener "Must You Make Eyes at Me Now," or the several '80s influences that creep in through the likes of the quirky post-punk of "For Bas, The Hague," the jangly Sundays-ish melancholy of "The Lights," and the new wave pop of closer "Who Would Have Known?" The lackluster "You Can Get Better" and the generic pop-punk of "Can You Let Her Know" drift into indie landfill territory, while MacIntyre's quirky lyrics don't always hit their mark. But on the likes of "Thameslink," a shimmering instrumental he first performed at his father's funeral, he shows that he is capable of leaving the eccentricities behind to produce something quite special. City Awakenings feels like it belongs to the short-lived era when Travis were the biggest band in Britain, but it's still a charming return from one of Scottish pop's unsung heroes.

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