I’ve always found it difficult to put any kind of tag on Loss. Just what type of music is it? It has elements of self-produced indie, but it’s far too well produced for it to be classed as lo-fi. It has moments of pure pop genius, but I would hold back on pigeon-holing it as a pure power pop album. It’s pop-rock, but not as most people would recognise it. The one thing it always has been though, is a hugely enjoyable listen.
Despite the cool detachedness you would assume from it’s title, Loss is a warm, friendly and, at times, quite intimate album. It’s not intimate in a stripped-down and raw way, but it’s like a good friend calling around to see you because they haven’t seen you in a while. It’s something that unexpectedly lifts the spirits and makes you feel a little less alone in this often cold, confusing and harsh world. Pianos plink along, synthesisers and samples bubble along nicely, melodies are in abundance, guitars are strummed and occasionally get a little bit loud, elsewhere choruses swell and choirs are utilised in places where choirs need to be utilised. The multi layered production is dense, but never over-bearing, infact I’d go as far as to say this is one of the best sounding albums of its era.
Coiln MacIntyre (the man who is The Mull Historical Society) is evidently a man versed in the history of popular music and someone who knows exactly how to replicate the sounds in his head, be it the adrenaline-rush indie-pop that is “Watching Xanadu” (still one of my favourite should-have-been-bigger hit singles of the era), the barely concealed bitter resignation of “I Tried”, or the hymnal qualities of “Only I”. If all acts could achieve results like this when they indulge themselves, it’s something that we would all be encouraging them to do a lot more.
That said MacIntyre has always been someone that struck me as grounded as well. While his lyrics could be occasionally ambiguous, there’s also an intangible humility about them, showing that he’s a bloke who has had similar life experiences to the next person in the street. He even goes as far as dedicating the album to his parents, which is something a hell of a lot more acts should do.
Since the release of this rather splendid debut, Macintyre has pinged between releasing music as Mull Historical Society, and under his own name. Some albums have hit the spot more squarely than others, but he’s never been anything less than interesting. For me though, it’s Loss I keep returning to, as it seems the most pure synthesis of everything great about Macintyre’s songwriting and his music in general, as well as being one of the most honest and friendly albums in my music collection.