Album Review: Malpas – Rain, River, Sea

Rain, River, Sea

Released July 31st 2015

Words: Jimmy GallagherMalpas - Rain River Sea - Front Cover
Rain River, Sea is a delicate traverse between pop and folk, the Brummy duo succeed in capturing elements of all three, and in turn, the imagination right from the first notes of this debut record.

Carefully programmed synths coat the acoustic strings that feature prominently in each track. It is plain to see that the album’s objective is to present itself as a conceptual landscape in tonal forms. So, maybe not that clear at all.

Malpas deal in extremes on Rain, River, Sea. Simplistic melodies mutate into futuristic robotic ascents not dissimilar to Meursault’s debut album – Pissing On Bonfires/Kissing With Tongues. This is certainly evident in Promise and Us Afloat.

It could be suggested that Rain, River, Sea does tend to confuse itself at some points but the songs follow the same route along the stepping stones, and are of a high enough quality not to take too much from the album, overall. Rain, River, Sea could be considered a concept album of sorts, reminiscent of The Flaming Lips mix of computerized wall of noise as in At War With The Mystics and The Soft Bulletin.

Charlemagne is a fine song, growing from a trio of string sections including mandolin and violin, it forms a psychedelic chrysalis that feeds steadily creating a vision of The Beatles circa White Album. This is a description – Not a comparison. The programmed drum beats scuttle the track along as the soft harmonies flutter above it until the animal is brought back to a controlled state, as it had begun.

We are grateful that songs like Spiders and Here Comes The Rain remain curiously intriguing rather than unnecessarily embellished that exponents of this musical type tend to submit us to (see London Grammar and James Blake). Rain, River, Sea holds our attention compared to the usual flakey and insignificant attempts at ‘haunting’ and ’emotive’. On the contrary Malpas can be significant.

Under Her Sails yields the obligatory violin and acoustic guitar that plaster this record but the Alexis Taylor-like vocals are well suited to the content. In Where The River Runs the pattern re-emerges but it is well received. There are many twists and turns in this album to keep the listener interested and vigilant to notice something new, the next time they press play. The album improves on every listen and it is because of the bold self indulgence that it does so.

Listen to Where The River Runs here:

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    Popped Music has been going since Feb 2010.

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