Myssouri

Malamerica

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AllMusic Review by

Myssouri's debut album is a rich, dark wonder of an album, blending everything from moody goth passion to country and blues-inspired hellhound-on-my-trail nightmares into an effective combination and synthesizing of styles. Much of the credit revolves around mainman Michael Bradley -- blessed with a deep voice that he uses to croon rather than bellow with, he delivers his tales of near-apocalyptic imagery and souls in torment in ways that attract subtly instead of attacking directly. His full band reads and interprets his lead well, further captured by the fine engineering and production job of Clinton Steele, whose Swans connections helped bring the band to wider attention. Even though Michael Gira and Bradley draw on similar sources, though, Myssouri finds its own path, more romantically dramatic than mythic and epic in the final run. "No One's Ark," the first full song on Malamerica following the brief instrumental title-track, shows plenty of ambition on its own, building and burning to a final peak much the same way that Nick Cave's peerless "Papa Won't Leave You Henry" does. Further hints of Cave's wound-up and wired desperation crop up with "My Eye," while "Closing Train" could be one of the best end-of-a-movie songs ever, all dramatic sorrow in the music and a slow fade to black. Meanwhile, the combination of gentle acoustic guitar and low keyboard moans on "Open Mouth," not to mention the blatantly sexual turn of the song, makes it a kissing cousin to prime American Music Club. It seems Mark Eitzel is another source of inspiration for Bradley, but again he doesn't quite clone the singer, wisely. Cristobal Jansen might be the secret heart of the group, his drumming work able to convey both subtlety and sudden, rushed energy in equal amounts (check "Open Road" for a particular highlight).