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The New Mendicants
Into The Lime Julian Marszalek , January 27th, 2014 11:41

So you were expecting what from The New Mendicants, the grouping of Teenage Fanclub's Norman Blake, Joe Pernice of The Pernice Brothers and The Sadies' drummer Mike Belisky? A techno album? An excursion into drum and bass? Speed Metal, perhaps? To complain about the predictability of jangling, chiming guitars, glorious harmonies and an iron grasp of joyous melodies so firm as to turn coal into diamonds in a matter of seconds is to grumble that the sun rises in the morning or that summer follows spring with a tedious regularity.

Moreover, Into The Lime does much to dispel the received wisdom that side projects are little more than exercises in vanity wherein the cast off songs from the individual players' day jobs are given a new lease of life in order to satisfy egos while nursing the bruises of rejection. No, this a welcome shot of vitamin D in the cruellest month of the year where summer seems to be an eternity away while the filling of tax return forms only adds to the harshness of January.

As early as opener of 'Sarasota', The New Mendicants set out their stall and inject some much-needed sunshine with the heart-warming combination of mellifluous organ, gently strummed acoustic guitars and handclaps, all wrapped up with instantly accessible tunes. But deception is at play here. The sugar sweet burst that propels 'Shouting Match' tempers the domestic butting of heads that results in raised voices and smashed crockery hurled across the security of the home. This juxtaposition of musical lightness and lyrical darkness is a neat trick and one that works just as well on 'A Very Sorry Christmas'. If the seasonal timing is a little off, the song’s meditation of "I've hurt so many people along the way, some are dead and some they really hate me" carries enough resonance whatever the time of year.

There are of course some caveats. 'Cruel Annette' owes way too much to The Rutles and that The New Mendicants look to a parody of The Beatles for inspiration should have had the alarm bells ringing in the quality control department as elsewhere the cover of Sandy Denny's 'By The Time It Gets Dark' fails to take root before floating away into the ether and giving way to more interesting fare such as the grinding fuzz that beats at the heart of 'Lifelike Hair'.

So yeah, no real surprises – but fuck it – would you have it any other way?

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