The Peters Port Memorial Service is the debut album from Glasgow band Mitchell Museum, which was recently released on Electra French Records. The band are steadily gaining attention throughout the UK indie/folk scene, with October 2010 seeing in the release of their third single, and the commencement of a new UK tour. Mitchell Museum’s growing popularity and generous critical acclaim is certainly understandable. In essence, at a base level, their music is positive and upbeat, but in a contemplative, inauspicious fashion that is very Scottish. Not brash or boorish in their optimistic sonic outlook, Mitchell Museum have here managed to create a mild yet anthemic soundscape which is exuberant yet measured.
Another reason for the growing success of Mitchell Museum is that this album specifically captures the zeitgeist of folk-based variants that are particularly popular and prolific at present. Psyche-folk, anti-folk, pop-folk; TPPMS could be placed within any of these sub-genres; although alongside freak-folk contemporaries such as Animal Collective, Grizzly Bear and The Antlers is where Mitchell Museum seem to fit most comfortably. Much of this album contains typical freak folk elements such as lo-fi production elements, and is laced with subterranean feedback. The album’s title track has strong reminiscences of the fantastic Antlers’ album Hospice, with low/no vox and delicate, sparse instrumentation and production. I must say though, Mitchell Museum are a band of influences. I can hear elements of many bands, such as Arcade Fire, the Happy Mondays and their freak-folk contemporaries, amongst many others. The vocals throughout the album in particular sound vey much like Polyphonic Spree, both literally (with their layering of many voices) and stylistically (with regard to the actual timbre and grain of the voice). Personally I would like to hear a bit more diversity with the vocals, perhaps having some tracks with just a strong lead vocal instead of multiple vocal tracks.
In terms of instrumentation however, The Peters Port Memorial Service is sound. The music is deeply layered and textured, and there is a diverse range of instruments and sounds. The drumming especially is often complex and more than accomplished. Production wise, the sparser tracks are perhaps more interesting, with songs such as Cut Lantern leaving room for rather more curious production. So over all, an interesting album, an enjoyable listen, and ultimately a positive addition to the freak-folk genre.