Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Scotland Yard Gospel Choir - Scotland Yard Gospel Choir

Scotland Yard Gospel Choir
Scotland Yard Gospel Choir (Bloodshot, 2007)
Grade: B+

Download: Scotland Yard Gospel Choir - "Aspidistra"
Download: Scotland Yard Gospel Choir - "I Never Though I Could Feel This"

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then the self-titled second album by Scotland Yard Gospel Choir, a chamber-folk-punk band based in Chicago that owe quite a big debt to groups like Bright Eyes and Belle and Sebastian, should be considered as the most complimentary album of the year. That may sound like backhanded praise, but all one has to do is listen to the ecstatically bright opening chords of “Aspidistra” to know that while Scotland Yard Gospel Choir may not be reinventing the indie-pop wheel, they’re doing their part to make sure that the world has plenty of highly melodious, intelligently written songs.

This self-titled record is their first album in four years, so it’s no surprise that Scotland Yard Gospel Choir, both the album and the band, decide to put their best foot forward. The first five songs off of Choir are spunky blasts of energy in the form of the most concise songs one could possibly hear. Furthermore, group leader Elia Einhorn writes savagely self-deprecating lyrics such as “If something went wrong/well, it was always my fault/and if something went right/then I was never involved”.

However, when Scotland Yard Gospel Choir tries to strive for the twee introspection, a la Belle and Sebastian, the record falters, mostly because songs like "Pins and Needles" do all to well of a job reminding the listener of their inspirations. After a little while, listening to the band begins to feel like listening to a copy of a copy, and we all know how well those turn out.

Fortunately, Scotland Yard Gospel Choir doesn't wear out its welcome, coming in at a brisk nine songs in 25 minutes. With their second album, Scotland Yard Gospel Choir show that they are quite capable of preaching to their own, so long as they do not revel too much in their inspirations. and stick to keen songwriting over melancholy wistfulness.

Scotland Yard Gospel Choir will be playing a 21+ show at the Triple Rock on Dec. 10th. Show starts at nine and tickets can be purchased here

(Jonathan Graef)

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