Mojave 3 - Out Of Tune
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Mojave 3
Out Of Tune
(4AD / Sire)

Upon first listen of this release, I was wondering what had happened to the semi-slowcore group that I thought Mojave 3 were. On their first release, Ask Me Tomorrow, the group fell into nearly the same category as groups like Low with their slow and deliberate pace, but nearly all of that is blown out of the water on Out Of Tune. Of course, that's not necessarily a bad thing, as the group still shows they've got a great amount of songwriting skills. Those expecting another release like their first, though, might find themselves somewhat dissapointed.

While it's still the original lineup (Neil Halstead, Rachel Goswell, and Ian McCutcheon), there are also quite a few more extra players and an overall boost in sound, both in tempo and sonics. They take on a little bit more of a lighter British rock sound, but still manage to come out sounding pretty fresh, mainly due to the great singing by Halstead and the solid instrumentation.

The difference can be felt immediately with the album opener of "Who Do You Love?" With organs, piano, and an acoustic guitar offsetting an electric one, the track has a surprising amount of energy for the group and even makes use of some nice trumpet and trombone flourishes to buff up the choruses a bit. The second track adds nearly just as many layers, and it shuffles off in sort of a country-western sort of way with some pedal steele by B.J. Cole and pretty, two-part vocals by Goswell and Halstead.

The group does strip things down a bit around the middle of the album with the quiet "All Your Tears" and nothing but Halstead with an acoustic guitar and vocals on "Yer Feet." With the stripped-down sound and slow pace, it's about the closest thing to Ask Me Tomorrow on the entire release. The group doesn't exactly pick things up on the next track, either. "Caught Beneath Your Heel" again brings back the organ in addition to a piano and the usual acoustic guitar. The group even adds a bit of a gospel sound to the track with the addition of vocals by Lisa Millet, and it ends up being one of the best songs on the release.

Before closing out the album with the addition of more pedal steele on "Baby's Coming Home" and the excellent last track "To Whom Should I Write," they drop quite possibly their most radio-friendly track ever in "Keep It All Hid." With just the right amount of feedback on the guitars and a bit of tamborines and organ, it sounds like a little less milquetoast version of a Wallflowers song, but still has more of a mainstream sound than most of their other stuff. In terms of a whole release, it's another good exercise in songwriting for the group, even while travelling into some different territory. With the added touches, it would probably appeal to alt-country fans or even those who enjoy quieter British rock. Definitely not a letdown after their solid debut.

rating: 710
Aaron Coleman 2003-06-19 00:00:00