ME – Even The Odd Ones Out

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Review by Brian McGowan

Lizard Kings Records

Clearly conversant with the works of those theatrical artists Sparks and the Scissor Sisters, ME show that their eclectism ranges wider and deeper than the obvious, channeling lesser known power pop acts like Jellyfish, The Wondermints and Valensia through their head turning music. If you’re going to steal a sound, steal from the best. Popular music has an amazing affinity for reinvention, and in lesser hands, Even The Odd One Out could easily have turned into a watered down cocktail of pop greatness, but instead, it is razor sharp, playfully melodic, and endlessly inventive. A triumph of pastiche over parody.

Like an outtake from the Rocky Horror Picture Show, first single ‘Vampire! Vampire!’ carves a fabulously campy chorus into your consciousness. If only that uber successful musical had songs this good. Opening pair ‘Hoo Ha’ and ‘Trails In The Sky’ are full of deft production flourishes and a valve-driven warmth that gives off the occasional whiff of nostalgia. Reminiscent of a time when popular music consisted of deceptively simple ingredients like handclaps, fingersnaps, soughing strings, a fabulous tune and an unforgettable hook. It’s a template that works, and is used on subsequent tracks in varying forms – adding sweet, high pitched harmonies; emphatic blasts of brass; naggingly familiar melodies and lyrics that play out like running jokes transplanted from music hall.

The sixties Britpop meets the Beachboys’ melodic lilt of ‘Rock And Roll Dandy’ make it an album highlight, along with ‘Working Life’ and ‘Westwards Backwards’ – where a welter of other bands offer up a diluted echo of the past, ME concoct a rich reinvention, percolating seventies pop through the colourful filter of stagey rock musicals. It’s frothy and weighty at one and the same time. Elsewhere, ‘Working Life’, anthemic but not bombastic, dramatically blows up into a lilting operetta, and ‘Their Song’, filled with nuance and detail, builds at moments to an operatic grandeur, reminiscent of Rufus Wainwright‘s rich, ripe musicality.

As we all know, ultimately, genre is meaningless. There are only two categories of music. Good and bad, and Even The Odd One Out is way to the left of the scale.

ME - ETOOO8 out of 10

Track Listing:

  1. Hoo Ha
  2. Trails In The Sky
  3. Rock and Roll Dandy
  4. Like A Fox
  5. Westwards Backwards
  6. Carousel
  7. Working Life
  8. Under The Sun
  9. Vampire! Vampire!
  10. Choral
  11. Your Favourite Colour
  12. Their Song