Fuck off back to art school and other stories seems determined to unsettle as well as reward. And it very much succeeds in both
Having returned to releasing as Meursault last year with the often downbeat but lovely I WIll Kill Again, Neil Pennycook hasn’t been resting on his laurels. The new year has seen him sneaking out this digital album in a relatively unheralded way, suggesting that the material will develop through future performances and other media.
As its partly getting-your-retaliation-in-first title suggests, the album doesn’t play things especially straightforwardly. There’s a concept lurking behind the songs that will no doubt come out further as the project develops, but the first impression is of variety and experimentation. That’s not unfamiliar for Meursault and the songs are well-rooted in the many things that Pennycook does well. So there’s muffled yet sometimes euphoric electronics, some folkish loveliness, stately piano and the distant, on-the-cusp vocals that lend a soft oddness to proceedings. But as things go on a more discordant edge pokes its way through, harsh edges and radio chatter sometimes complementing the ‘urban horror’ tag that Pennycook has given to the presented stories. No single mood prevails though. For instance there are straighter tunes- Nakhla Dog, for all that it appears to have been inspired by reports of meteorite striking a dog, with a female vocal could almost be a lost Watersons song. And I Heard My Mother Praying for me is a lovely Hank Williams cover . Other songs run a gamut from there to the sinister construction of the title track layered with repetition, fuzz and sax squall.
Where I Will Kill Again was quite bleak but ultimately comforting, this latest album seems determined to unsettle as well as to reward. And it very much succeeds in both.