Mull Historical Society - City Awakenings

Mull Historical Society first came to my attention when I saw them, on a recommendation from a friend, at London's ULU back in November of 2001. Back then I was still a teenager, on a mission to find alternatives to the blandness had dominated the airwaves since the end of Brit Pop, and MHS immediately excited me with their upbeat, catchy, and above all different sound. So many of the big bands of the time seemed identikit. The first MHS album, Loss, was a minor masterpiece in my eyes, and I felt sure major success beckoned. This was perhaps naive, their appeal in hindsight was limited by the very facts that attracted me to them, the quirky, fun, almost silly feel of their music. Odd that an album called Loss, written about the death of Colin MacIntyre's father, should have an uplifting feel, but that's how I found it at the time. (It is worth, as an aside, mentioning that I've decided to refer to MHS as "they", although MHS is essentially one man, the aforementioned Colin MacIntyre.) They followed up Loss with Us in 2003 and then This Is Hope in 2004. The albums were not much of a progression, which is no bad thing, they were all thoroughly enjoyable, but it did mean their fanbase seemed steady and dedicated, rather than growing. A more populist direction would not have resulted in an increase in quality. After that, Colin decided to release two albums under his own name, The Water and Island. Both were calmer, more acoustic, and more mature offerings.

But with City Awakenings, a return has been made to the Mull Historical Society name, due to the album sounding like a return to their earlier sound. In truth, it is a return to the sound I loved ten years ago, the sound I've been missing for several years now. Every chorus is glorious, upbeat and disguises, as only MHS can, any darker meaning that may lurk beneath. It is a tribute to Glasgow, London & New York, the three cities which Colin says have influenced him the most. This is most obvious on single The Lights, but less obvious references crop up frequently, amongst lyrics that have been written with precision, clarity and careful thought. Colin's songwriting talent has never been in doubt, and this showcases some of his best work yet. But you need not focus on the lyrical content to enjoy this album, its upbeat, poppy, cheerful, and guaranteed to add cheer to your day. Does this offer something new for MHS? No. Does this take me back 10 years and fill me with happiness? Yes. I couldn't have asked for more. It's great to have Mull Historical Society back.

Alan Smith