THE KINGSBURY MANX – Ascenseur Ouvert! (Odessa Records)
Ten years on and five albums in and The Kingsbury Manx are still indie’s best kept secret. They have stayed true to their original aims to make music that is warm and friendly, and this album varies little from that format. ‘Walk On Water’ is a great track to open with as it confirms to us fans that the band haven’t decided to go for a complete overhaul of their sound, being a luscious ballad, gently sung, as ever, by Bill Taylor. This is followed by the slightly more lively ‘Over The Ouevre’, with its insistent keyboards, and then the short but perfectly formed ‘Black And Tan’. ‘Well, Whatever’ is another up-tempo piece, with a twist in the chorus that surprises on first hearing but is so good that you can’t wait to hear it again. ‘If You’re On The Mend, I’m On The Move’, has just a hint of country about it, both in the title and the music, and ‘Crest’ is another deceptively simple ballad, with the violin adding an extra poignancy to the chorus. ‘These Three Things’ slows the pace down so much that you begin to hear traces of Low and their patented slow-core sound, but The Kingsbury Manx have been making the same sort of music for the same period of time, so are no mere copyists. It is also the song where the band decide to unleash the fuzz-guitar, making for a superb piece of music which transcends the minimalistic lyrics. ‘Minos Maze’ starts of with just vocal and guitar, but when the rest of band come in for the worldless chorus there is a definite Beach Boys vibe to the song. The understated organ on ‘Galloping Ghosts’ brings to mind some of Dylan’s mid-60’s work, and its elegant guitar solo is also rooted in that period, almost as a tribute to Marvin and Eddy. Ryan Richardson takes over vocal duties for his own ‘Clean Break, and inserts a country element to the band’s sound, while ‘The Whip And The World’ makes good use of keyboards, both organ and piano, on (for the Manx) a storming rocker. ‘Indian Isle’ has a glorious melody that could be a single should they think fit, and George Closing’ does just that with an elegant piano/vocal piece. These songs on here are dreamy, melodic, fey, contemplative, relaxing, but above all brilliant, and this album is a worthy addition to their immaculate catalogue.