Eugenius

Mary Queen of Scots

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AllMusic Review by

Although the critical buzz upon its 1994 release was that Eugenius' second and final album was a marked disappointment in comparison to their debut, Oomalama, that line of thought doesn't hold up upon listening. Mary Queen of Scots is less immediate than Oomalama and its more sedate sound takes a few listens to sink in, especially on the obsessively repetitive opener, "Pebble/Shoe" (which recalls the minimalist pop of Eugene Kelly's first band, the Vaselines). Once that happens, though, the crunchy guitar hooks and naive melodies of ultra-catchy songs like "On the Breeze" and "Blue Above the Rooftops" come through. Kelly's diffident vocals are brought more to the fore by Craig Leon's low-key production, which is arguably a bad choice given that Kelly's nothing-special voice isn't one of the group's best attributes, but that's a minor complaint, and there are moments, such as the indelible chorus of the Teenage Fanclub-like title track, where it works brilliantly. Kelly's not the most varied songwriter in the world, and there's a stretch about two-thirds of the way through the disc where it gets hard to tell the songs apart, but the simple indie-guitar charms of songs like "Easter Bunny" and the multi-layered fuzz of "Let's Hibernate" deserve a second (and third) listen.

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