My Sad Captains - Fight Less, Win More - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

My Sad Captains - Fight Less, Win More

by Steve Reynolds Rating:8 Release Date:2011-11-07

For their second album, My Sad Captains head honco Ed Wallis did a Bon Iver on us and locked himself away in the deepest darkest recesses of a borrowed house in San Francisco and during that time he pretty much nailed all the content for Fight Less, Win More. On his return to the UK, he hooked up with the band in the remote Cornish undergrowth to construct and record the entire album.

Opener and single 'Orienteers' is both punchy and memorable while drawing heavily on the influence of such important American indie bands such as Yo La Tengo and Red House Painters with its mix of heady melancholy. The soft padding drums and the closing jaunt of the backward reeling keys offers a superb grandiose introduction for any first time listeners to the band's material.

'Homefront Pt II' is much more driving with its 4/4 beat and gently tinkled ivory keys that cannot fail to register a murmur in even My Sad Captains' fiercest critics. It rotates on a clever looping axis which rocks gently and effortlessly. 'Resolutions' is standard acoustic indie fare except for the closing finale with the funereal vocal repeat of "That's how you wanna go" against a car crash of guitar and keyboard which gives the song a fitting effervescent wig-out. 'Heavy Lifting' appears to be an instrumental until Wallis' vocal paints a musical kaleidoscope and lifts the song to another level while the shards of chiming guitar compliment the song rather beautifully.

My Sad Captains took a great leap forward on this their sophomore album and had Larry Crane (Cat Power, Sleater-Kinney, Elliott Smith among others) mix the album and add some real class and continue to hone their sound while making it much more succinct and full. On 'Little Joanne' everything is distinctly breezy with some calming but taut harmonies between Ed and his brother Jim against a rather mellow but kindly acoustic arrangement.

The soft plinky-plonk keys open the way for the dreamy 'Up and Away', reminiscent of Mogwai circa The Hawk is Howling with its post-rock sound contrasted with a regimental, almost religious-sounding vocal, it's the closest the band comes to cutting loose electrically. 'FLWM' is a demonstration of the power of clever acoustic minimalism and restraint with haunting, soft and at times ethereal vocal.

Surprisingly for a band considered to be downbeat indie, their songs are rather uplifting. They demonstrate this on 'Round and Back Again' with its tinges of indie-pop and Belle & Sebastian style musical arrangement. They return to a more earthy folk feel on 'Threes' then step up the pace with the mellifluous 'Minah Bird'. They end with 'Duck and Cover', which for me is the weakest track on the album although it's a minor negative against a plethora of fine melancholy indie. Some may call it twee and lacking in bite, but if you give it some quality airtime and focus on the marvellous craft you'll have it up there as one of your favourite albums of 2011.

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