Out Of Tune

Mojave 3

4AD / Sire Records, 1998

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REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


When I was in college, I was given my first taste of true alternative music courtesy of Anthony, who was the music director at the campus radio station. (He's since gone on to bigger and better things in the music industry... couldn't happen to a nicer guy.) One day, he threw a copy of the latest Cocteau Twins tape across the cubicles to me. I listened to it that night in the dorm - and almost threw up. My musical tastes were expanding, to be sure, but I wasn't quite ready to go that far across the border. (Believe it or not, I still have that tape, hidden deep in the aisles of the Pierce Memorial Archives.)

As I've gotten older, I've been able to appreciate this textured style of music more and more. One such example, Out Of Tune from Mojave 3, demonstrates to me that there are some wonderfully gentle performances out there on the market, but even gentleness can go a little too far.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The band - guitarist/vocalist Neil Halstead, bassist/backing vocalist Rachel Goswell, drummer Ian McCutcheon, guitarist Simon Rowe and keyboardist Alan Forrester - has a very American sound to their music, although the band is based in the United Kingdom. The music has a very acoustic texture to it, although electric guitars are used where needed. In a sense, being able to craft such a sound is something special, and is well worth checking out.

Musically, Out Of Tune has some great moments on it. The opening track "Who Do You Love" sets the tone for the album by building up an easy rhythm and getting the listener caught up in the music. Although that tone is broken slightly by the use of "fuck" on "Give What You Take", Mohave 3 quickly recover from the slip.

All of this is well and good, and it would be easy for me to say that Out Of Tune is an album that you can ease into. Unfortunately, the sound is so laid back and homogeneous at times that you almost become hypnotized by the music, and it simply becomes a backing track to whatever you're doing. Tracks like "Some Kinda Angel" and "Yer Feet" quickly become blurred together - not the best thing to be happening at the halfway point of any album.

Fortunately, the harmony vocals of Goswell come into play and make things different again, revitalizing one's interest in the album. Tracks like "Caught Beneath Your Heel" and "This Road I'm Travelling" stand out more than some of their cousins. And while the album ends on a strong note with "To Whom Should I Write," Mojave 3 start to slide back into the old patterns right near the end.

Of course, in the big picture of things that could go wrong with an album, having an album become almost hypnotic is not terribly big - in fact, some of these songs do work well as simple "background" music to one's day. But to someone that wants to be able to pay attention to what they're listening to, Out Of Tune makes sure that this task will be more difficult.

It's still a great album that demonstrates the power of music that has at least part of its roots in the acoustic vein, but Mojave 3 does need to try to break the routine up a little more the next time.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of 4AD / Sire Records, and is used for informational purposes only.