When I first put this into my player, I turned it off after the third listen, and then dug out my NME and looked at it suspiciously. I know they're prone to hyping every band that can put two chords together, put surely, I thought, they've gone too far this time. "Planet surfing melodies?" I whispered in disbelief. "Out of this galaxy?" This has got to be THE most annoying, overrated album, with possible exception to Highly Evolved, ever made!
About ten listens later, I'm more than ready to eat my words. Am I Wrong? Yes. MHS have a great album here; it just gets better with every listen. With each play you hear a bit more of the breath-taking depth of this album, and you learn to love it that bit more. Be warned, however; Us is a monumental grower. Do not expect to hear Colin Macintyre's brilliance on the first listen. In fact, you will most probably cringe at his slightly nasal vocals, and ask yourself how any band can expect to get off the ground with a voice as grating as that leading it. However, the small-island-man's vocal chords are just another example of the extraordinary grower quality of the album; keep listening and it begins to blend perfectly with his band's take on lush psychedelia.
Problems? Us is perhaps a bit too long. If Macintyre had cut out some of the slightly average songs, like "Clones" and "Five More Minutes", it would have made for a far more snappy and trimmed offering. MHS also have a tendency to be heavy-handed with their quirkiness on a couple of the tracks. I wouldn't call this showiness; it seems Macintyre is over-eager to prove something. The title track would be a beautiful Aqualung-esque moment, but is distracted by the unneccessary plonky beginning and the weird shouted ending.
All in all, a rousing, earnest and often heart-wrenching album. Don't make the mistake I did; listen to it a couple of times before making your mind up.