Mull Historical Society released three well-received albums' worth of low-key but commercially accessible indie pop in the early 2000s before splitting. Though the band maintained a fairly consistent touring lineup, singer, songwriter, and keyboardist Colin MacIntyre has since claimed that Mull Historical Society was always nothing more than a solo project, and considers The Water his fourth album rather than a solo debut. This is not entirely musically accurate: the first album on which MacIntyre works with an outside producer (Nick Franglen of Lemon Jelly), The Water sounds distinctly different from the three Mull Historical Society albums. Unfortunately, it also sounds distinctly inferior. The Water starts off with four deadening midtempo tunes that lack the energetic spark and musical invention of Mull Historical Society's best work, and sound like MacIntyre is now making a concerted effort to appeal to the Coldplay-loving mum rock crowd. The album is fully one-third over before the first memorable tune kicks in; the peppy "Famous for Being Famous" is certainly more like it, a spunky, snarky rocker with a decidedly new wave edge, and later on, the Todd Rundgren-like "Stalker" and the noisy, cranky "Future Gods and Past Kings" make a late stab at increasing the album's overall energy level, but those three songs aside, The Water is just one enervating plod after another, all of them with an unpleasant edge of "I am a serious artist" pomposity. One of the album's late songs may be called "Faith No. 2," but if Colin MacIntyre were really George Michael (another solo artist who ditched the fiction of a group identity after a while), this would be his Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1.
AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason
feat: Tony Benn