Scattered Pearls is a weekly series in which people are asked to discuss bands that they feel didn’t scale the heights that their talents deserved. This edition was written by Folly of Youth, prominent Manchester music writer and fellow loser at the city’s 2010 blog awards, this was his response to being asked for his thoughts:
I bought the debut My Sad Captains single ‘Bad Decisions’ (7” vinyl on Fortuna Pop) immediately after seeing them play The Local Tent at End Of The Road in September 2007. “Can’t wait for the album” I thought upon hearing this gorgeous slice of jangle-pop. Well it was nearly two years before that debut album came out – on Stolen Recordings in the summer of 2009. Listening to “Here and Elsewhere” I fell in love not instantly but by degrees, as befits something slow-cooked and patiently prepared. Here the London quintet had perfected a drowsy, summery pop that sits somewhere between jangle and Wilco-esque Americana, all lovingly arranged and blending bitter-sweet reflection with joyous melodies.
What surprised me was the relative lack of fanfare the album received that summer or over time. Rough Trade made “Here and Elsewhere” one of their albums of the month and Simon Raymonde booked the band to play the Bella Union stage at Hard Rock Calling alongside Lone Wolf, Pearly Gate Music and Beach House in 2010 (an oasis within an overtly commercial festival described by The Line of Best Fit as “akin to finding a lost Klimt buried away between the frozen pizzas in ASDA”). But I hear little of the critical noise I expected to echo the adoration I felt: no lone journo championing them, no Camden peers talking them up, no label-head bemoaning the neglect or lack of airplay. Understated and overly modest, the band themselves also appear uncomfortable with any attention: “it’s all a game show / I’d rather be unknown” from Bad Decisions speaks volumes. True, My Sad Captains may be too mellow and polished for the DIY fanzine crowd and way too conventional and delicate for hipster endorsement. But for someone like me raised on both 80s-into-90s indie-pop and wistful Americana, “Here and Elsewhere” is an assured, downcast classic.
Many under-rated bands only get their due long after they have split up or ceased recording. Now a four-piece, the second My Sad Captains album (recorded in Cornwall, mixed in Portland, Oregon) will be released later this year. Maybe, just maybe, it will help towards the band getting their dues whilst a going concern.
Folly of Youth is a ‘shrine to wasted hours’ and is perhaps the best way to keep up to date on pretty much everything interesting happening in the city of Manchester. With monthly gig previews, reviews of the best live shows and album, coupled with unique videos and interviews, it’s a sickeningly underrated site within itself. If there’s ever a blog equivalent of Scattered Pearls, FoY would be first on the list, regardless of how many hits it gets.