Island is Colin MacIntyre‘s fifth album since 2001, but only his second under his own name – his first three long-players being released under the Mull Historical Society moniker. While he’s always had an ear for a catchy melody, this is the first time he’s stripped his generally soaring pop tunes back to their bare bones.
Island was recorded, appropriately enough, on MacIntyre’s home of Mull, in the room that served as his first classroom when he was just five years old, now part of The Tobermory Arts Centre. The initial recording took place to make the Arts Centre’s 10th anniversary, and some of its other celebrants, including King Creosote and Ross MacFarlane joined in the process: indeed, MacIntyre even managed to rope in a load of his neighbours for a particularly rowdy choir on the closing -Ned’s Song (Brother)’.
Despite the acoustic nature of the arrangements, there’s no hiding the fact that this lad knows his way around a melody, whether it be gentle caress of opener, -The Edge Of Nearly’, the frantic -Cape Wrath’, and the poptastic -No Ordinary Queen’ or the sway-fest that is -Stay Something’. Quite why he’s not a household name is beyond us: in much the same way as Ian Broudie’s compositions, MacIntyre’s songs are accessible enough for daytime radio but interesting enough for the music nerd in all of us.
While we can admire the album’s organic beginnings and worthy recording process, State prefers MacIntyre when he’s in full-on pop/rock mode and there’s a nagging feeling that some of these songs could have benefited from a little more in the way of production – the towering -Breathe, in particular, could give the Keanes and Coldplays of this world a run for their money, given a little more spit and polish. But then again, perhaps that’s the whole point.