Some critics may think that their age gives them more credit and validates every opinion they have. I am on the lower end of the age spectrum when it comes to critics, but that doesn't mean I have no clue what I'm talking about when it comes to music. Hey, I'm not a worldly expert but I think I can hold my own. The point of this is that I am reviewing Natural, the latest effort from Mekons, a group who has stood the test of time, forming nearly thirty years ago. I've never heard this group at all, which some would think makes me unqualified to approve or reject that many years of hard work. Regardless, I'm in over my head by now, so I digress.
The opening track, "Dark Dark Dark," begins with a soft mish-mash of instruments including some strange percussion and maybe a violin. The melody remains the same throughout the song but it's rather harsh and boring. An accordion dabbles in and out between lyrics. The next song, "Dickie Chalkie Nobby," claims to be the single from the album, so I stay optimistic. It begins with a somewhat basic drumbeat and the vocalist comes in slowly, talking at first and eventually singing as the same instruments as before flow in. This melody is a little easier on the ears, but still had no effect on me. It seems to turn into a kid’s song chorus at the end, which really did nothing to help the song whatsoever.
The lyrics are seemingly dripping in metaphor but are either too abstract or too drug-induced for me to really grasp. Case in point, the first lines of the album, “The twisted trees sing 'dark dark dark'
Broken branches hidden far down below.” I didn't really get the point of that one; it doesn't even rhyme. Most of the lyrics have similar themes where you really can't tell what the theme is supposed to be.
Some of the other songs on this album brought in harmonicas, xylophones, and other offbeat instruments to compliment the rather kooky feeling that I found emanating from this group. Some of the songs just don't have anything that fits, as if the members recorded their parts without listening to the others. A little hope came with the ironically titled "The Hope and the Anchor," but this track seems to stand alone.
Here is where the critic's job gets iffy. More egotistical elitists will say, "I don't like it, so it's trash." But I try to be a little careful here, making sure it's not just the fact that it's not my thing. In this case, I have to say I'm all for experimentation, but this album is just a little too weird for me. However, the end of it picked up a bit, so it's not completely worthless. Personally, I don't think Natural is very good, but that doesn't mean it's horrible to everyone.
4.1 / 10
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