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Reviewed on 1st May 2003.



By Micawba

In the first fifty seconds of joyous simplicity, Micawba burst through all the barriers. "In all her dresses" is a shimmering song in a performance to put alongside "There she Goes" by the Las. It's that good.

It's first on the album and I can't stop playing it. It's in the classic key of A major, with (naturally) a minor key middle eight. It aches with optimism and yearning. It has a beautiful bright and disarmingly simple guitar riff that everyone who hears it wants to play - air guitar, real guitar, whatever. It is fantastic. It should be on the radio all the time. "And I know what she wants!" he yodels in a big strong voice. And after 3 minutes 33 you just put it on again. And again and again.

You notice the excellent drumming building in those subtle and adrenalin surging ways that only real drummers know. "In her dresses" is infinitely more erotic and exotic than anything more direct. And all the time that single guitar line is blending and filling out into bigger and more intense moments. Bliss.

So how does the rest of the album sound? To be honest I don't like it half as well. It's darker and moodier. There are fuzzed guitars and snarled vocals from the Nirvana pissed off songbook and the feel never gets back to that first rush of amazed creativity. Never mind. Give 'em a million quid for the first song and let them spend five years writing another to match it. Track 4 "In another lifetime" is an acoustically mournful expedition with strings and some interesting harmony backing vocals. But as a song it doesn't really work, so the fine setting ends up as emptiness.

"The end" is very promising at track 6, with another of those neat guitar lines against the strummed acoustic and the generally pleading vocal line. It could be a folk song given the treatment, but doesn't have quite enough story or melody to qualify. "Waterfall" at ten is a respectable closing tune with a natural fluency in the guitar that isn't matched in the rather forced vocal.

In general the drumming stays strong and the band play well enough. There are some subtle and well produced backing vocals. But there is a sense of a live set, with the necessary overplaying and shouting dominating over the creative possibilities of using the full dynamic range of a studio. This is most apparent in the ear bullying debut single "Persistence" which comes right in at track 2 to bludgeon the spell created by "In all her dresses".

When it comes down to it, Micawba have got themselves a mountain of a problem. If they don't include "In all her dresses" they have a respectable slightly chilled indie/sub-Nirvana album which will please many. But no more. If they do include it, they have a belting chart topping opener that completely blows the rest of their stuff away.



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