- by Jim Harris Rating:9 Release Date:2016-06-03 Label:
You have to be skeptical of labels designating a collection of artists as a supergroup. The sum of the parts rarely equal any of the parts on more than a song or two and as a whole the album usually has too many watered down tracks that leave little impression. Then they go their merry way. I hope that doesn’t happen with Minor Victories. This sum exceeds most of the parts on this self-titled album to produce one of the stronger releases out this year not only in the shoegaze category but the alternative world in general.
The band circulated a fairly different approach to recording as each were sent parts for them to fill in instead of gathering together in a studio. Cool idea and maybe it’s why the album works so well. Egos, in the same room together, not colliding over sound levels, bridges, lyrics, etc.
Regardless, the band caught my attention because the Sandy Denny of shoegaze, Rachel Goswell, was signed up. Slowdive is one of my favorite all-time bands and Mojave 3 kick ass as well and Ms. Goswell has not only a beautiful and distinctive voice but it seems organically tied to the genre in such a breathtaking, heart aching manner, I am sure, if she were to front a Mariachi band, it would qualify for a top ten shoegaze album. Rachel Goswell has a transformative effect on Minor Victories that gently elevates the rest of the supergroup to a higher level, much like Sandy Denny’s voice, all those years ago, did for Fairport Convention.
That said, the music on Minor Victories is a wonderful blend of some of the best of the moody Mogwai electronica and the rather cohesively dense but grand built for the stadium excesses of the Editors. I can’t say either of those bands leave much of an impression on me. The Editors began as a Joy Division channeled through Interpol knock off that transformed into a keyboard-based band that caused me, uncomfortably, to have Jesus Jones flashbacks. Mogwai, straight up, is just a little too preciously moody for me. But Minor Victories? This is a band that should continue. There is magic here.
From the deliberate and majestic drum intro of the opening song, ‘Give Up the Ghost’, on through to the showcase and brilliant song, ‘Breaking My Light’, Minor Victories should equal major success. While none of the remaining tracks establish such a breakthrough in shoegaze as the front part of the album, there simply are no weak tracks. With Twilight Sad’s underrated James Graham interplaying with Rachel on ‘Scattered Ashes (Song for Richard), and Rachel’s voice reaching sublime levels on ‘Folk Arp’ and other mystical, transcendental tracks, Minor Victories has a surprisingly cohesive structure in its entirety.
Minor Victories is a band that should carry on into more releases and hopefully it will.
Great review Jim. I could probably get Rachel to sign a copy of the album if you like.
This sounds good, and with James Graham as well. Listening now !