- by Sean Hewson Rating:5 Release Date:2016-04-27 Label: because
There are parts of this album that I like a lot but there’s a lot that makes me quite cross. This is slightly unfair because it's not entirely down to The Liminanas. Rather, it's a combination of some things that are wrong with this album and a much more all-encompassing rant about how we're sold an image or how some things are taken as fact and not questioned - The Beatles are good, the MC5 are revolutionary, Primal Scream are rock 'n'roll....pick your own sacred cow - all of which are just opinions and, to me, incorrect ones at that.
The reason I am struggling with this album is that it is another style over substance album. A grab-bag of what would once have been cool references - Histoire De Melody Nelson by Serge Gainsbourg, Tropicalia, 666 by Aphrodite's Child, Aftermath by The Rolling Stones, The Velvet Underground and Nico - and I don't think this stuff is cool anymore because you don't seek it out. It's everywhere and it's free.And, although it's not The Liminanas fault that the internet happened, cool is something that you have to earn and you can't anymore. It's all on YouTube. But, not only is Malamore an amalgamation of these influences, I get the feeling that once this sound palette has been created, the actual song is an afterthought. The chord progressions and melody lines are dull throughout this album. Sometimes, as on Paradise Now, they are directly stolen (in this case, from Midnight Cowboy). This is a real shame because some of the playing and the arrangements are very good. The Train Creep A-Loopin, with it's wah-wah and fuzz guitar builds into a really nice wall of sound. Occasionally they threaten to break into the kind of groovy freak-out that Aphrodite's Child pulled off on Four Horsemen but more often than not, without a strong song it just sounds more like a square ad man's idea of what was hip in the late '60s.
Aside from the above there are two very minor things that also make me cross. One is the title 'Garden of Love (featuring Peter Hook)' - as if this is in some way a good thing. Hook does some of his high up the neck bass playing, so effective on New Order's songs full of hooks and great chord changes, but pointless over these predictable chords. Most petty of all is my dislike of the line 'I'm Robert Mitchum, Bob Duvall' in the title track. Now, I don't know Robert Duvall but I presume that if he wanted to be known as 'Bob Duvall' he would have himself listed as such in the credits to his many films. The actual song starts out promisingly enough with a nice combination of acoustic and fuzz guitars but the vocal, the tune and the lyrics just seem lazy.
So, after all this rather mean-spirited and petty whinging what are we left with? I think there are two options. If you choose to view this album as a series of mood pieces, vaguely evocative of a period towards the end of the '60s when psychedelia was seeping into the straight worlds of film soundtracks, advertising music and easy listening, then it's great to put on in the background whilst you flop around in your beanbag. On the other hand, if you want a bit more out of the experience, you're left with a disappointing album. One that, in it's arrangements and in the skill of the playing (especially the bass playing) promises so much but fails to deliver due to the the song-writing being predictable and a bit of an afterthought.