MONKEY SWALLOWS THE UNIVERSE "Bright Carvings"
I've been trying to outrun "twee" since 1998. See, I ran this little label, and when a double cd, triple lp compilation called Pop American Style came out in the summer of 1995, it put said label on map. While it was nice to have indiepop types embrace the label, it was expected from me to release badly tuned, badly sung, sincere pop music. To host house shows. To make small talk with people who think music started with the first Talulah Gosh single. To wear badges. It was very hard, I have to say, having grown up with a vast interest and knowledge of every genre of music, but perhaps only the best 7% of each (yes, I'm the decider). I was sucked into a cuddlecore whirlpool that was hard to get out of.
Blah blah, that all said, a record released in February this year has seeped into my heavy rotation, against my wishes, and if you're one of those indiepop types holding out hope that someone can still make a heartfelt record without aping Belle & Sebastian, here's to you. Sheffield, England's Monkey Swallows The Universe comes in and single handedly saves the genre with their quaint folky melodies. I don't know when they popped up on the radar, I don't know if they've even infiltrated that community or made a dent in the UK, but I have no doubts once they hit the road, they will certainly swallow the universe.
"Jimmy Down The Well" may channel Amelia Fletcher in some regards, there's even a recognizable stolen Heavenly chorus in there, and yes, perhaps some stolen B&S trumpets (sounds more like Love to me), but the song sounds fresh and would benefit from some real production. The gem here, however, is "Sheffield Shanty" which trumps "Jimmy" with a plaintive acoustic guitar and a lilting refrain. Make sure you catch the little tribute to Paul Simon's "You Can Call Me Al" at the end there.
Monkey Swallows The Universe may not be the Marine Girls. They might be better.
JIMMY DOWN THE WELL