Thursday, August 12, 2010
The Burns Unit - ‘Side Show’
Nope, not a charity project for victims of tanning booths or a fan club for that old dude from the Simpsons, this particular ‘Burns Unit’ refers (I’m guessing) to ‘Rabbie Burns’, the bard ‘imself. After all this is something of a Scottish (and Canadian) 'supergroup', uniting such luminaries as King Creosote, ex-Delgado Emma Pollock, Future Pilot A.K.A. and – undisputed star of the show – MC Soom T in one of those albums that pretty much defies categorisation. It all kicks off in a fairly low key way though, lulling you into a false sense of insecurity with ‘Since We've Fallen Out’ a forlorn end of a relationship tune that slowly builds then quickly falls away again...much like most relationships these days then eh?
Just when you think you can safely file this away in your indie folk pile though up pops ‘Trouble’. With a naggingly insistent cheap electric keyboard dragging you in and multi layered female vocals it’s the kind of upbeat track that The Bird and the Bee would happily put out. It’s a cracking tune but then along comes ‘Send Them Kids to War’. Whoa, where’d this come from? Shimmying its ass off like Shakira on a mission it’s actually Soom T (also known as MC Soom T) on vocal duties. Musically there are some Gyspy influences in there, some Latin American rhythms, some folk backing vocals...it’s an ear’s orgasm of a track.
That’s just the first three numbers ticked off. Elsewhere you’ll find shades of Regina Spektor and Tori Amos (on ‘Blood Ice and Ashes’), a Russian tinged sing along (on ‘You Need Me To Need This’), an Indian / Scottish folk mashup (‘Majesty of Decay’) and...why the hell not...a Latin Gypsy Ska skank (‘What is Life?’). This album brings it all together and, despite the face slappingly obvious differences in styles, it all somehow works really well. Less of a ‘Side Show’ then, more like a big deal.
Side Show is out now on Proper Records.
PS: You can listen to the album for free right here! Bargain!