Top positive review
5 people found this helpful
Thoroughly excellent debut album
on 23 November 2014
Nick Mulvey has been one of the undisputed breakthrough artists of 2014. With his début album, “First Mind” being nominated for the Mercury Prize and most of his many tour dates selling out, there haven't been many indie artists who have enjoyed as successful a year as him. Given the praise for the album, I decided to check it out for myself and was pleased to discover that the acclaim is well deserved, as “First Mind” is an intriguing, beguiling album which has been on heavy rotation on my stereo since I bought it back in August. Full of looping rhythms and rotating musical themes, many of the tracks have the common trait of being able to send the listener into an involved, almost trance-like state listening to them. Mulvey has an ear for an interesting rhythm, having studied music in Cuba and been part of the Portico Quartet, a group described as 'electronica meets future-jazz', and accentuating the beat is an important characteristic of his music, even when strumming or picking out a riff or melody on his guitar.
Although it may take the listener a few plays of the album to really get to grips with everything Mulvey is trying to communicate with this work, it soon becomes clear that there isn't a bad song on it. Indeed, there are more than a handful of thoroughly superb songs on “First Mind”. “Fever To The Form”, for example, is a corker, starting with a simple strummed guitar chord sequence, adding vocals and then slowly, instrument-by-instrument, becomes a powerful piece of music, yet still retains a pleasing mellow characteristic. The atmospheric “April” features Nick's mournful vocals and a picked arpeggio dancing over haunting synth chords in the background, whereas the excellent “Juramidam” is a much more forthright affair, featuring a slightly distorted acoustic guitar (with some nice harmonics for good measure) over a relentless, driving rhythm which increases in stature and becomes embellished with more instruments until the song reaches a moody, magnificent climax and then winds back down. “Cucurucu” radiates warmth, a tale of a child sitting underneath a piano listening his mother singing; it is a song with a great heart.
Another one of the many highlights is “Meet Me There” which constructs a masterful groove before reaching thrilling, soaring heights on the last chorus and the very last track, “The World To Me” is another fine and rather sparse example of Mulvey's intricate and distinctive songwriting style, finishing the album with aplomb. Overall, this album has a great vibe and it deserves all of the acclaim which has been lavished upon it this year. Listening to it from start to finish is simultaneously soothing and exciting, if that isn't too much of a contradiction. The only one misstep, if you can call it that, is quoting Olive's “You're Not Alone” (both lyrics and melody) on “Nitrous”; on an album with so much originality, the idea feels misplaced. Still, if that is the only thing that doesn't work, Mulvey must be doing something right and, in such a fickle, easily-hyped music industry, it is genuinely pleasing to hear an album that really does live up to all of the critical acclaim.