By Dancing Mice
A couple of years ago I was handed this band's curious yet beguiling previous LP - 'Eroded.' Having re-read my thoughts on that offering (www.leedsmusicscene.net/article/9417) I can - for once - recall exactly what I liked about it. What is also clear is why I subsequently came to find it somewhat frustrating. It's not that it was a difficult listen, so much as that it resolutely refused to yield those mind-embedding highlights which distinguish truly great music. I still think of it as an album I ought to have loved, but one which became something I merely liked a lot.
Why am I dredging over old ground? Mainly, I fear, because the band's latest offering does so itself. Sure - there are a couple of new tricks added to the armory. The appearance of some female vocals doesn't go amiss ('Always On Our Own,') spoken word samples add interest ('Agenda For Change') whilst beguiling middle-eastern rhythms push the tempo along on the eight minute Crusade-inspired epic 'Jerusalem's Home.' Meanwhile, the off-kilter Tango structure of 'Poison' presumably informs the ballroom cover art. On the whole, however, it's left to the swirling retro sound of the organ to define the gloom-psych sound.
Once again I can see myself giving this disc a prolonged opportunity to prove itself as a 'grower,' but find it difficult to say how kind I - or posterity in general - will be. Too many of the tracks ('Death Makes You Feel Like A Man,' 'Watching Waters Rise,' 'Gone Girl' etc.) sound so similar to favoured tracks from 'Eroded' that judgement is likely to be similar, i.e. slightly equivocal. Having said that, the musicianship is unimpeachable and a considered listen to 'Solferino' is far from being three quarters of an hour wasted. I shall continue to follow future output from the Dancing Mice with considerable interest.