Saturday, 21 March 2015

Album Review - Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat - The Most Important Place In The World

A continuation from the hopeless desolation of young adulthood and the onset of responsibility and childcare; themes which were explored in the award winning collaborative album from Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat Everything's Getting Older;  the duo's latest offering, The Most Important Place In The World,  finds Aidan Moffatt starting a young family and exploring the trials of middle age.

There is humour in all of Moffat's lyrics, but it is usually so dark and hidden beneath heartbreak and guilt that it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.  By comparisons The Most Important Place In The World  is a humourous and joyful album.  From opener On The Motorway  with it's motorway observations; “a gridlock of seven seat saloons scream 'baby on board'..."; to the closing track We're Still Here, which details the demise of a small town; "we watched the florist wilt, and wane, and wither into dust"; the album is full of jokes.

There are touches of past melancholy in track the The Tangle Of Us  but overall the upbeat pop, including some of the most hummable songs of Moffat's career, outweigh that feeling.  Aidan Moffat's spoken word is usually harsh and abrasive.  On this album it seems closer to Rod McKuen or Serge Gainsbourg.

There are as many ideas crammed into every track as ever, but the smooth delivery creates a totally different listening experience.  The track Vanilla,  aside from the lyrics detailing a relationship becoming stale could be the soundtrack to a beach holiday. 

A standout from the album has to be the soul infused Street Pastor Colloquy, 3AM,  which details a journey home from a night out which descends into spiritual debating.  Guesting on the track is The Glad Cafe Choir, and while the lyrics are far from the kind you'll hear from the pews of a chapel, the soulful choral singing, backed with saxophone and piano lends this track a real uplifting feeling.

Alongside the positive message of the album, the instrumentation is slick, with soulful saxophones and brass and tight orchestration.  It's here that the experience and skill of Bill Wells comes to the fore, proving once again that this partnership has much still to offer.  It may stand out from everything else in his cannon but The Most Important Place In The World  is just as enjoyable as anything from the Arab Strap cannon, and indeed his previous work with Bill Wells.

- Peter Johnstone

Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat - The Most Important Place In The World  is out now via Chemikal Underground and can be purchased from all good record stores and online music retailers.

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