MJ Hibbett & the Validators

Warriors of Nanpantan

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AllMusic Review by

Described as a "very rest of," this collection of random singles and one-offs and so forth provides an enjoyable snapshot into the work of MJ Hibbett, who whether singlehandedly or with his group the Validators makes a great case for winsome U.K. indie pop with a brain, heart, and sense of fun. Hibbett's got a great, slightly wry singing voice that suits his sometimes bemused observations -- hearing him avowing the joys of a good cup of tea in "Work's All Right (If It's a Proper Job)" is one of many treats -- and the brisk, mostly acoustic guitar-led arrangements sometimes make him an equivalent to the Mountain Goats. Like that band's John Darnielle, Hibbett is an appreciator of pop in all its forms -- live he's covered acts like DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince -- and so practically every song on Warriors of Nanpantan aims to stick immediately upon first listen, and quite often does. The Validators, in perhaps a variety of forms (five collaborators are listed but not specifically what songs they played on), make for a good backing band when present; even stripped-down songs like "The Perfect Love Song" have something like a sudden trumpet melody or a beautifully sad violin part. Sometimes the production quality is fairly rough -- not muddy but not crystal clear, either -- but that adds to the charm without invoking the dread specter of lo-fi. As is often the case with acts pegged solely as humorous, many songs that show a more serious bent cut surprisingly deep -- the titular image of "Another Man's Laundry (Hanging on Your Line)" is at once funny and sharp, while "We'll See What We Can Do" is an extremely affecting portrait of awkward loneliness. That said, there's no question that Hibbett does humor beautifully, and song titles like "Hibbett's Golden Rules of Beer" and "Fucking Hippy" are some of the winners.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 2:46 SpotifyAmazon
2 2:32 SpotifyAmazon
3 2:40 SpotifyAmazon
4 2:44 SpotifyAmazon
5 2:48 SpotifyAmazon
6 1:46 SpotifyAmazon
7 1:57 SpotifyAmazon
8 2:27 SpotifyAmazon
9 1:41 SpotifyAmazon
10 1:45 SpotifyAmazon
11 1:53 SpotifyAmazon
12 2:19 SpotifyAmazon
13 2:47 SpotifyAmazon
14 2:49 SpotifyAmazon
15 3:52 SpotifyAmazon
16 3:53 SpotifyAmazon
17 2:25 SpotifyAmazon
18 1:59 SpotifyAmazon
19 2:49 SpotifyAmazon
20 1:02 SpotifyAmazon
21 2:35 SpotifyAmazon
22 3:19 SpotifyAmazon
23 5:12
blue highlight denotes track pick