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Mallee Songs is the solo project of Michael Skinner (no, not the one from The Streets). Natural Times marks a shift from its predecessor, as Skinner is now working with a full band, fleshing out his guitar pop sound considerably. Despite the pitch dark sleeve art, this would fit very well in a summer environment. On Beko.

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Natural Times by Mallee Songs 1 review. Add your own review. 7/10
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7/10 Staff review, 11 August 2015

The skirling guitars and hushed vocals of slow moving opener ‘Bad Faith’ remind me very much of those marvellous records By the Fireside produced a few years ago. If that is too much of an obscure reference for you then get these people into your head double quick: Mercury Rev, Sparklehorse, Grandaddy. It saunters along, unchanging except for extra percussion and bits and bats added to the mix It keeps the attention always; good start.

I have a feeling lead Mallee Songs man Michael Skinner spends plenty of time crafting his songs. ‘Since the Kingdom’ starts out with a country lilt but where many such songs bore me to tears, as soon as the vocals come in you sort of want to listen to what he has to say. The album has a nice reverby sound as if it has been recorded in some kind of dark hall, but that is only the icing on the cake of the good songwriting at work. When he’s more upbeat there are shades of the early Belle and Sebastien and I’m also reminded of Sophia.

As usual the caveat applies: this type of record often needs the sort of time we don’t have in order to grow. On the first couple of listens this sounds like a good example of what we’ll call ‘slowcore’ songwriting.


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