Meursault – Nothing Broke

Nothing Broke

It’s weird for me to be reviewing a record which is released on my own label, but inasmuch as it feels a little strange, it would in many ways be even stranger for me not to be reviewing Nothing Broke just because it’s on Song, by Toad Records.  So, erm, somewhat vested interests noted, let’s proceed.

For a lot of Meursault fans I think this EP will be most notable for the appearance of live favourite William Henry Miller Pt.1 – on an official release at long last.  For me, this is less the case for this song than it is for the title track itself.  The first four songs I ever heard by Meursault were demo versions of The Furnace, Lament for a Teenage Millionaire, Salt Pt.2 and Nothing Broke on their MySpace page just less than two years ago, roughly.  I specifically requested it when they performed their Toad Session almost a year ago – a sparse, lovely version itself – and I am thrilled to see it finally released into the wild, where it belongs.

Initially, this was supposed to be a mini-album including a lot of acoustic versions of songs from their album, but as it was recorded that concept receded somewhat.  According to the band it just seemed right to keep it all new material, although this does mean that there is a stunning version of Salt Pt.1 out there still waiting to be mixed.

Consequently, Nothing Broke ended up being far shorter than it was strictly intended to be, but this makes it lean as fuck: there is no flab on this whatsoever – not a whiff of filler anywhere.  In fact, although it might lack some of the thunderous noise which is apparently coming our way on the second album, it is an amazingly coherent, whole piece of work.  It works perfectly as a group of songs, some of which are the best I’ve heard in fucking years.

Red Candle Bulb is something of a Bear Scotland effort in that, for all it was largely written by Dan from Withered Hand, Neil from Meursault and Cammy from Enfant Bastard made their own contributions to the tune.  I’ve known of this recording of it – in my eyes the definitive one, although that opinion may be a little controversial – for some time and it’s another one I am glad to finally have see the light of day.  In fact, given how well-known W.H.M. Pt1 is as well, the only really new songs to me on hearing this were Love or Limb and the splendidly morose finale, William Henry Miller Pt.2.

How well these integrate into the better known stuff is impressive.  The emotional trajectory of the EP as a whole seems perfectly judged.  Love or Limb is the centre of the work, and the third in a surprisingly varied opening trio of rather dismal laments.  Nothing Broke, for all the band may insist it is a funny song, is nevertheless musically rather splendidly downbeat.  This mood shifts into the wryly humorous self-deprecation of Red Candle Bulb, and then the flirtation with country which flavours Love or Limb, before the dark cloud is brilliantly exploded by the jaunty clap-along of William Henry Miller Pt.1.  It’s perfectly judged – any more and it could all become a little depressing, but this song brings something of a release, allowing us to really wallow in the most miserable tune of the lot last of all.

Albums are by their nature often more sprawling, and now that there is expectation I would imagine the second record might be difficult to pull off with such ease, so to my mind I doubt there will be a more perfect, self-contained release for some time.  I really do think that this is an astoundingly good piece of work, dubious as that may sound coming from someone with a vested interest in its success.  That’s genuinely what I think, though.

Meursault – Nothing Broke
[audio:http://songbytoadrecords.com/media/Meursault-NothingBroke.mp3]

Meursault – Nothing Broke (Demo)
[audio:http://songbytoad.com/tunes/Meursault-NothingBroke-Demo.mp3]

Meursault – Nothing Broke (Toad Session)
[audio:http://www.matthewjamesyoung.com/ToadSessions/Meursault-NothingBroke-ToadSession.mp3]

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